New Elections Administrator Explains Her Relationship With John Wiley Price and Talks About the Ousting of Her Predecessor

Categories: Politics

Toni_Pipplens_Poole_Merten.jpg
Photos by Sam Merten
Newly appointed Elections Administrator Toni Pippens-Poole in her office at the Elections Department.
As you likely know by now, longtime Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet retired last month after, as he claims, Commissioner John Wiley Price told him that he had been in the position far too long. Sherbet also says Price even handed him a letter of resignation for him to sign.

At an Elections Commission meeting scheduled prior to Sherbet's announcement and held shortly afterward, Assistant Elections Administrator Toni Pippens-Poole was appointed as his replacement by a 4-1 vote, with only Dallas County Republican Party chair Jonathan Neerman dissenting.

On Tuesday, a vote by the commissioners court to retain Sherbet as a consultant failed by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Maurine Dickey and Mike Cantrell voting in favor.

Both votes had Democrats in support of Pippens-Poole and Republicans fighting for Sherbet. Meanwhile, Sherbet gained support from folks of all political persuasions wearing "I Support Bruce" T-shirts.

Yet, somehow in all this mess, no one has interviewed Pippens-Poole, who was given the assistant job by Sherbet when he was named elections administrator in 1987. That is, until now.

You've got to feel like you're in a bad position given all the political wrangling with Mr. Sherbet. How has that affected you?

Well, I've been working with Bruce for the last 24 years, and I don't want to take anything away from his reign as being the elections administrator. I didn't have anything to do with what happened, but eventually I was given the responsibility of administering the Elections Department, and that's exactly what I'm going to move forward and do.

I'm just going to continue to do what I've always done in the Elections Department, which is to make sure that we have fair and honest elections run since I started 24 years ago. What took place with Mr. Sherbet, that's completely between the [Elections] Commission, Mr. Sherbet and the commissioners court.

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The sign when you step into the Elections Department remains unchanged.
How did you and Mr. Sherbet know each other?

Through mutual friends. I understood that there was a position available. I've worked with other organizations. I've worked with public relations and am very interested in that.

When Bruce was telling me about the position, it was more personnel, getting involved in elections, working with the election judges, training, and that's something I was really involved with, mostly in the private sector rather than the public sector. I came directly from the private sector, so it was a little challenging because I came from real restrictive rules and regulations in the private sector as opposed to what was generally happening in the public sector. It was a good transition, and especially with Mr. Sherbet. We kind of grew together in the job.

Is there part of you that's a bit disappointed with what happened to Mr. Sherbet since you worked together for 24 years?

Truly, truly I would have to say that, yeah. But I understand what took place. I understand just from reading because I'm not there in the discussions. I don't know what the facts are. I'm reading just like any other citizen is reading.

I'm just gonna have to go with what's been given to me -- the responsibility. I really don't have any comment on how that took place. I just feel for Mr. Sherbet because, like I said, I can't take anything away from what he's done all these years. He's real popular, and that he should be. And I appreciate what he has done. I really do.

How do you evaluate his tenure overall? Would you say he's top of the rung?

Well, certainly. And, like I said, I can't take anything from Mr. Sherbet and what he's done. I can't take anything from the legacy he wanted to have, and I personally can't take anything away from him.

As you said, you've been reading along with the coverage. There's a perception that Judge Jenkins and Mr. Price were working behind the scenes to put you in Mr. Sherbet's position. Did you have any discussions with them prior to what happened with Mr. Sherbet?

No. None whatsoever.

No discussions?

No discussions whatsoever, and why do people say that? I can't explain what they think. Not at all. Didn't have any prior discussions with either of them.

How would you describe your relationship with Mr. Price?

[Pauses.] [Laughs.] My relationship with him? As far as a commissioner, he's a fantastic commissioner just like the other commissioners are. I haven't worked with the county judge or any of the other new commissioners, but I've worked with Commissioner Cantrell and Commissioner Dickey. We've worked well together, and I hope we continue to do so. [Laughs.]

You wouldn't describe your relationship to Mr. Price as anything other than a working relationship?

No.

You don't see him out of this realm?

Well, yeah. There are activities that we may see each other at in the community. I go to community functions, and so, that's it.

I guess what I'm getting at is there's this notion that you're tight-knit buddies with him ...

Like I said, I can't explain what people say. That's something that you'd have to ask them. Yeah, yeah, we're friends, and we've seen each other at social gatherings, community events. I receive Christmas cards and stuff like that, but he sends them to all his constituents.

So you consider him a friend?

Yeah, I hope so. I hope I can consider all the commissioners my friends. I sure do.

But the notion that you have a special relationship that would lead to him leading an effort to oust Mr. Sherbet ...

I've already explained that to you. There was no behind the scenes. Whoever's telling you that, you need to find out from them. There's no big conspiracy. I've been working here 24 years. Look at my office. Does this look like a conspiracy to you? I'm just doing what I've always been doing.

What do you plan to do differently from Mr. Sherbet?

Like I said, that's something that I can't take away from Mr. Sherbet. I definitely want to do that, but, like I said, what I'm going to continue to do in this position is what I've always done, which is to work very hard and maintain the integrity of the elections, and I'm going to work for all the voters in Dallas County -- not just one segment, not just one party.


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50 comments
Coldrh
Coldrh

I am disappointed that I found out about j w price's racist rant today. Had I of known sooner I would not be going to Dallas this weekend or at any time until that bigot is gone! It appears that he speaks for Dallas and being white that does not include me.As a civil rights type in the 60's and a member of the US Army for 34 years his type makes me wonder why. Was my life's work a joke?I will pray for him in church on Sunday when I return home. And like my response to his fellow racist in New Orleans;I will NOT return to Dallas until he changes or leaves office.

Joshua
Joshua

Uh....I think she lied. JW Price does NOT send Christmas Cards. He only observes Kwanza...from HIS mouth.

Funny how this office went from a lean, intelligent dedicated white man running it with a neat office to some funny fat lady with a trash can for a desk and the ability to lie through her teeth without doing anything other than giggling.

05dannyT
05dannyT

Isn't that nice that someone stuck pins in the flag and its now covered up?

Jjke
Jjke

John Wiley Price is a dumbass nigger!

can'tgetfooledagain
can'tgetfooledagain

Let's stop with the Bruce Sherbet Goodbye Victory Tour (how many more clubs are going to invite him to speak?) and get on with improving the voter registration and turnout numbers in Dallas County which are atrocious.

Jay D
Jay D

A few observations concerning Ms. Pippens-Poole answers which may not be untrue, but seem to be designed to create a "false impressions."

Ms. Pippens-Poole never actually praised Mr. Sherbet, she merely stated she "wouldn't take anything away" from him. A meaningless response.

Secondly, Ms. Pippens-Poole never directly addressed her relationship with Price. Clearly she was trying to avoid going on record defining the full extent of the relationship.

Lastly, Ms. Pippens-Poole carefully gaves the impression that her entry to the elections administration position was through Sherbet, or mutual friends. She leaves the impression Mr. Sherbet recruited her for the position.

I recall reading several articles alleging that other elections administration employees quit after Mr. Sherbet was sacked. Has anyone asked them for comments?

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

John WIley who? Wait a minute, wait a minute, I think the name is familiar. Wasn't he that actor in that comedy what's-his name was in?

R B S USA
R B S USA

I’ve known Mrs. Pippin-Poole for the past three years and I know her to be honest and to the point. I love how everyone only looks at her work here in the county (Good or Bad). Maybe you should broaden your gaze and see what she does around the country for other election jurisdictions in the form of training, sharing knowledge and giving advice/ assistance. Take a look at her rolls in National Election Organizations and you will truly see a great example of what she can do and will do for Dallas County. She is highly respected, greatly loved, and is needed by other jurisdictions for her knowledge. While I am saddened for how all this came about, I am excited for Dallas County and the Elections Departments future.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

RS1963, Where have you been? when is the last time you called and a government office and was asked "How can I make you a happy customer today" Most government and I mean city, county, state, and federal respond to a question "I have no idea." I hold my breathe and politely said in the same happy customer tone.'Great, I will be MORE than happy to hold while you either find out or transfer me to someone who does. If the only help you can give me is "I have no idea," I will gladly add your position to the budget cut recommendations. Taypayers have no idea where to get money to fund an office that has no idea what the office does and what it is being paid for." Come on everybody help!

Sam, this article is worthless. This topic is hot! Just ask toni if she is or was involved in a personal realtionship with John and get it over with. What does she plan to do different?From my experience with her, she is quite capable of doing the job and I hope people do not hold her realtionship with John against her. John is the elected official that has to be held accountable. We should let Toni do her job and get on his butt.

RS1963
RS1963

No matter what the JWP part of this whole deal is, what caught my eye was her statement:

"I came directly from the private sector, so it was a little challenging because I came from real restrictive rules and regulations in the private sector as opposed to what was generally happening in the public sector."

Um...so unlike the private sector where people have to follow rules, in the public sector you can just do whatever the heck you want? Scary.

Johnhenry728
Johnhenry728

ive never understood the vitrol accorded john wiley price . iam one of two cacuasians who grad from dallas south oak cliff's 1970 class, if you go down to oak cliff now, not a lot has changed , john wiley has done nothing but try to fight for the people of an area . and to be honest ive never seen a quote ascribed to him i found reason to doubt or disagree with . by the way i voted for john mcain in 08.

Docann
Docann

Well, Snookie Pie, obviously you weren't around in the '80's, because it WAS common knowledge that Pippens-Poole was one of the women JWP was "consorting" with back then. At one time, he was the up and coming young politician being groomed to be city manage and maybe even mayor. Then he got himself into some trouble with women (a rape charge was mysteriously dropped because of political pressure), and he was also noted for his confrontational attitude. He was dropped as a mayoral hopeful, and he became a county commissioner instead. He's been one ever since. He doesn't walk softly and carry a big stick. He is famous for his racist attitude ("My proudest possession is a slave collar"), and his confronttations with people. Pippins-Poole was mentioned frequently back in those days in vatious articles aong with other women.

Joanne Rhone
Joanne Rhone

I have no idea why anyone would call me a "JWP plant". JWP doesn't know me from Adam. I've never in my life spoken with JWP. So, how could I be a JWP Plant? Because, I know for a fact that Sherbet was in the pocket of the Republican party? So, in order to hide Sherbet's corruption, you figure you'll just call me a JWP plant? Probably the same as calling Toni a JWP lackey.

MattL1
MattL1

Is there any direct evidence that this woman is actually a "lackey" of Mr. Price? It seems to me that most of the claims made are either circumstantial or just assumptions. In the last 24 years, has she ever done anything to suggest corruption? I'm asking this seriously. I have not trouble hating on county officials, but I need to know why before I do, and I haven't a reason with Ms. Pippens-Poole so far as I can see.

No, I'm not a "JWP plant."

Joanne Rhone
Joanne Rhone

Sam, you're way off base this time. The questions you hit Toni with scream to me that you are taking sides and are not even giving her a chance.

I've been an elec. judge for years and an early vote clerk. Toni is extremely qualified and in my opinion very fair. I know everybody wants to think Sherbet was the 2nd Coming or something, but he did make 4 or 5 decisions that I personally know of and I personally called him on and he made those decisions to benefit his good buddies at the Dallas Republican Party Office.

Unfortunately, becaue Sherbet was so charismatic everybody thinks he was perfect. He was not. I knew 5 yrs ago he was in the pocket of the Republican Party.

Sherbet knew the Comm Court controls his dept. and job. Sherbet saw the Dem win in Nov. Sherbet knew one day he would get caught. Sherbet knew the second that Elec. Comm. Board mtg was called that his jig was up. And, whatever you want to say about JWP--we know he is smart and Sherbet knew JWP figured out long ago what Sherbet was up to. However, before the Nov. election JWP didn't have the votes to stop Sherbet. After Nov. he did.

Sherbet quit for one reason--because the game was over.

But, it behouves Sherbet and the Republican party to put a spin on this and a cloud and blanket over Sherbet's past Republican-biased action and instead sling mud and false allegations all over the Dem Comm. Court members, and also toward the completely innocent of any wrong-doing, Election Comm. Board members.

Why anyone would be targeting John Ames (Tax Assessor) or John Warren (County Clerk) for anything at all is beyond my understanding. Those two men did nothing. They were notified of a meeting of a commission they had never heard of. By the time they attended that meeting the Elec. Admin. had quit.

What did Ames or Warren do to anybody that would justify the slaughter of their name?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

That is one Messed up Desk !Might the the first place to look if votes are ever missing.

Wilhelm
Wilhelm

Nobody's yet mentioned, Collin County fired their elections person a couple weeks before this hit the fan. My guess is that's where Bruce will end up, taking a nice pension from Dallas County with him.

Justice
Justice

Ms. Toni needs to learn to tell the truth. She did have conversations with JWP prior to Bruce leaving. She is even the one that told Bruce that he was getting the ax! Wake up folks.

Don
Don

JWP thinks Bruce Sherbet was in his position too long? How's about someone tell JWP the same thing?

shrubstex
shrubstex

Clay Jenkins and JWP have had it in for Sherbet since the Democratic Primary of 2008 When they were mad at Sherbet for not getting all the Obama votes in the south Dallas precincts. That was when the democratic party hired Jenkins and sued the elections bureau. Fast forward to Total Democratic Control of the Dallas County Courthouse in 2011 and you can see what any political operative can see.It is time to consolidate power in Dallas County until such time as the Hispanic Majority begins to flex its muscle and want some of its own.

Oakparkstudio
Oakparkstudio

Sam that is an interesting Q & A. JWP certainly doesn't need to spell out his wants and needs. He likes the "Godfather Touch." Pippens-Poole probably knew exactly what was going down and didn't need further instruction. I'm sure she is competent otherwise Bruce wouldn't have worked with her.

I'm curious though about what Sherbet has to say about his temporary...probably permanent successor...I'm not sure if he's been asked that or addressed. Could be a good Pt. II to this column.

The Truth
The Truth

This is a great interview, Sam. And kudos to you for trying to tell both sides AND for asking the tough questions. Too bad the answers are mostly fabrications. Bruce Sherbet DID NOT recruit Toni Pippins-Poole for this job. It is common knowledge that John Wiley Price shoved her hiring down Bruce Sherbet's throat way back when. And in those days, Toni and Price's relationship was particularly close (use your imagination). Neither of them tried to hide it and it was common knowledge within the county. Can you dig deeper and ask questions about her initial hiring? I'll bet people who were around then would love to share their stories. It definitely made a lot of people angry at the time.

MattL1
MattL1

I will say, she talks a good game. However, for safety's sake, let's keep an eye on things at the County Elections office. You know, just in case...

Guest
Guest

Of course, if she is a JWP lackey, she's not going to go telling a reporter that she's a JWP lackey.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

Joshua, I agree that toni having the press invited to her office was not a good pr move. i am not taking up for us black folks but we are newcomers to the table and have no had access to pr firms for damage control. I think the county should at least have sometype of orientation for department heads and press releases, remember betty culbreath, she got sanctioned for her missteps. So hopefully toni will read this thread and act accordingly.

El Rey
El Rey

For someone who supposedly respected her boss, Pippins-Poole sure phrased her responses in a peculiar way:"I don't want to take anything away from his reign as being the elections administrator."

Referring to her supervisor 'reigning' over a department is very telling...

Joshua
Joshua

Well, maybe South Oak Cliff High in 1970 thought that a Black Hole was a racial slur, given the state of its science results, and maybe they taught more IRISH social slang than Afghanistan tribal religious leaders, called chief mullah so that to think a racial slur came out of a reference hyperbole would be normal in your education. And frankly, a LOT has changed in Oak Cliff today over then. Sure, the African American community still does a lot of drugs, crimes, violence, and throws there trash around the same, but now it is more like downtown Juarez with Hispanic shops everywhere...seems they replaced all the cheap shoes shops and wig shops that used to be the norm. That you voted for John McCain merely means you are a totally confused person too. Did you like being bused to the ghetto in the 1970s? Most of us put our kids into private schools then to keep them from learning like you seem to have had to do. Hope you have a government job, or get a mental handicapped disability payment to live on.

Garland Guy
Garland Guy

Agreed. I am not a Price lackey, but I am baffled by all of the criticism he receives. He is passionate, he is vocal, he is unafraid to ruffle feathers when they need to be ruffled. Aren't those positive qualities that we want to see from our political representatives?

Joshua
Joshua

I thought surely JWP was gay....no respectful WOMAN would ever look at the buffoon seriously without a lot of blow or hard liquor first.

Joshua
Joshua

How about we just call you an out and out liar and leave the rest to be discovered over time then?

Garland Guy
Garland Guy

Yes. When an elections administrator abruptly changes policies at the very same time that the county switches from Republican to Democratic control, that definitely raises eyebrows. And where there is smoke... you know the rest.

Lynn
Lynn

Hit dog howls!

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

"he did make 4 or 5 decisions that I personally know of and I personally called him on and he made those decisions to benefit his good buddies at the Dallas Republican Party Office".

Okay Joanne, since you clearly have 1st hand, verifiable knowledge of Mr. Sherbet's misconduct (keep in mind, you are implying misconduct, not mistakes), please share this information with the class. However, if you're not able to provide this information, please do all of us a favor and refrain from "throwing shit against the wall" in this forum.

Joshua
Joshua

I thought that "JIG" is a RACIAL SLUR these days. Maybe you need to go to hell, like JWP said in Court.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

I'm not taking sides, Joanne. I asked her questions, and she answered. That's what I do. And had I not asked her about JWP given what has been said and implied, I wouldn't be doing my job.

Steve
Steve

If Sherbet was there to benefit his good buddies at the Republican party then Republicans should have been the ones kicking him out because under Sherbet's tenure Dallas became more and more of a Democrat county to the point of becoming almost irreversibly Democrat back in '06.

Oakparkstudio
Oakparkstudio

Ames and Warren are similar JWP lackeys...politibots who just need winding by Price to do his bidding.

Come on.

The Truth
The Truth

Well, Joanne, it must also "behouve" the Dem Party to say that Bruce Sherbet is the "second coming" because they voted 94 to 4 at their Executive Committee Meeting last Tuesday to commend Bruce Sherbet for his work as the Elections Administrator. If he is so awful and supposedly in the pocket of the Republican Party, then why is a HUGE majority of the Democratic Party leadership rushing to show their support for him?

You're a John Wiley Price plant. Go sell your garbage somewhere else. We're not buying it here.

cp
cp

Riiiight! She's been in office for a mere weeks and that desk got that messy that fast??!?!?

Steven T
Steven T

Collin County should be a better fit for Sherbet. No Democrats there to question his actions or attempt to conduct an employment review.

Joshua
Joshua

Probably couldn't fire her without getting a lawsuit for discrimination. A black female employee of the county is unfireable.

SnookiePie
SnookiePie

Trying to tell both sides? What both sides? I only see one side: the pro-Bruce Sherbet/anti anyone else side.

And, who are you to say her answers are fabrications? You make up things like "it is common knowledge..." Common knowledge to whom? Not to me? Not to anyone I know? You sound like you've been drinking at the Betty Culbreath trough.

Well, I guess anyone who has to use a tag called "The Truth" is mighty impressed with their own opinions and not open to even considering any other opinions.

Rabbit
Rabbit

Lakewooder, looks as if every comment that I had read is "throwing shit against the wall" in this forum. What makes the anti JWP, anti Judge Jenkins, and anti Elections Commission, God!

Garland Guy
Garland Guy

But Sherbet's actions were clearly favorable to the Republicans. He was willing to send extra elections workers to GOP strongholds, yet refused to do the same thing when needed at Democratic strongholds. Fishy, fishy, fishy. And when he had a chance to defend his actions, he cut-and-ran instead. Fishy, fishy, fishy. And he curried support from "Tea Party" activists that openly endorse anti-democratic (lower-case "d") ideas. Fishy, fishy, fishy.

Joshua
Joshua

Warren is a smart competent guy that does not deserve to be parked on the same lot with JWP and that crooked bunch....

Joshua
Joshua

Need a lot of clutter to appear to be DOING something worthwhile.

Joshua
Joshua

Honesty and integrity....opposite poles from JWP, Judge Jerkins, and All such Creatures Great and Small.

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