Politics Betty Culbreath, County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s longtime friend, confidante, and senior administrative assistant, is not given to bragging. But Culbreath’s recent appointment as the first black to head the influential 15-member City Plan Commission puts her in a strong position to carry out the political dreams she plays down in public while plotting almost daily with friends and supporters.

Becoming the first minority to guide the Plan Commission gives Culbreath plenty of clout in itself, but the City Council’s unanimous vote in her favor was also invaluable. Some voiced concerns about Culbreath’s alleged “abrasive-ness” and lobbied extensively for commission vice-chair DANELL LIGHTENWALTER. But in the end, the votes were all there. That should help pave the way to endorsements and dollars for whatever political course Culbreath charts in the Nineties.

Culbreath, 48, has proven herself a master of grass-roots politics as an entrepreneur, social worker, Parkland Hospital administrator, City Plan Commission member, and a key cog in Price’s political machine. Much of that work, of course, was performed behind the scenes. Now, she’ll have a brightly lit platform-make that a springboard-and media attention galore. Don’t be surprised if her first bounce is to the City Council, unless the ties and contacts Culbreath forges while heading the Plan Commission allow her to hop right over City Hall and replace Price on the Commissioners Court. He’s expected to make a run for Congress if, as anticipated, the post-1990 redistricting creates a “safe” minority seat.


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.