Trish DeBerry of The DeBerry Group introduces UTSA President Taylor Eighmy.
Trish DeBerry has set her sights on a soon-to-be-vacant Bexar County Commissioners Court seat. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Conceding defeat to Mayor-elect Julián Castro in May 2009, after garnering the second-most votes in that year’s mayoral race, Trish DeBerry told a crowd of gathered supporters they hadn’t heard the last of her.

Nearly 11 years later, DeBerry has set her sights on a soon-to-be-vacant Bexar County Commissioners Court seat and hopes to overturn the 25-year void in female representation on the Court.

DeBerry, who owns a public relations firm in San Antonio, will run as a Republican in the 2020 race for the Precinct 3 Commissioners Court seat, she announced Saturday. The seat has been held by Kevin Wolff, also a Republican and son of political stalwart and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, for 14 years. But Wolff in August announced he would be stepping down after his term, citing his desire to return to the private sector.

A former TV journalist, DeBerry has run the DeBerry Group for seven years. Wolff’s resignation contributed to her decision to run for Commissioners Court, but the decision was not immediate. However, she said she received an outpouring of encouragement and took steps toward launching her campaign.

“The more I took a look at it, the more intriguing it became,” she said. “I think it’s a unique opportunity.”‘

Like the 2009 mayoral race, which featured nine candidates in all, DeBerry looks set to enter a crowded field vying for the coveted Precinct 3 seat. The primary for the Bexar County elections is set for March.

Candidates have until Dec. 9 to file for the March primary, but among those who have declared their intent to run are Weston Martinez, a staunch Trump supporter and former Texas Real Estate Commissioner; former County Court-at-Law No. 8 Judge Celeste Brown; real estate developer Mitch Meyer; former County Court No. 7 Judge Genie Wright; and Kenny Vallespin, an assistant vice president at The Bank of San Antonio.

Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) told the San Antonio Express-News in August he is weighing a bid. Former councilman and mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse has even voiced interest in the seat.

On the Democratic side, drug addiction counselor Sarah Sepeda-Garcia and Vietnam veteran Ismael Reyes have lined up to seek the nomination.

DeBerry has enlisted the help of friends and associates in the run-up to her campaign launch. Former Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade, also a Republican, will serve as DeBerry’s treasurer. Ed Whitacre Jr., former chairman and CEO of both AT&T and General Motors, is also supporting her candidacy, she said.

Identifying as a fiscal conservative, DeBerry said she hopes to bring a pragmatism to public policy while keeping tax rates low for Bexar County residents. She will key in on mobility and transportation and is keen to avoid the challenges that plague San Antonio’s neighbor to the north Austin, such as traffic gridlock and a skyrocketing cost of living.

“We’ve got to be proactive and forward-thinking,” she said. “We can negate some things that have happened. They’re not very far away from us. We’re very close geographically [to Austin] … but there are similarities in that we are two very fast-growing cities.”

DeBerry hopes to break the long absence of female leaders on the Court, saying it’s time for a “strategic businesswoman” to serve.

Age 54, DeBerry has now called San Antonio home for more than 35 years, starting with her graduation from Winston Churchill High School. She has remained in Precinct 3, raising two children in Alamo Heights.

“I kind of feel like it’s my backyard,” she said.

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.