Longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price is a man of faith – and he’s been relying on that faith as the federal government has been investigating him, says a pastor who knows him well.
On Friday, federal officials announced they've charged Price with accepting $900,000 in bribes in exchange for political favors, including votes for specific projects.
Price has been attending Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas for several years. KERA spoke with Frederick Haynes, senior pastor at the church, who reflected on what Price means to Dallas County.
Haynes said he last spoke with Price on Sunday. Price is scheduled to teach a class at Friendship-West in the next couple of weeks about Jesus and justice.
“His faith has kept him focused,” Haynes told KERA. “One of the things that I truly respect about him is the fact that he is a man of prayer, he is a man of faith. That has presided over how he has handled himself, both in crises and in handling business.”
Despite the federal investigation, Price has been focused on his work, Haynes said.
“He’s very focused on the job at hand,” he said. “He’s just grateful for the support he’s received. He’s grateful for how God has kept him sane in the midst of all this craziness.
Price, on the court since 1985, is the only black commissioner. His supporters are loyal and call him “our man downtown.”
“I’m convinced that Dallas is different and better because of the service he has rendered and continues to render,” Haynes said. “When he became county commissioner … in terms of what Dallas County leadership looked like … it did not reflect the demographic of Dallas County.”
Haynes applauds Price’s advocacy for justice.
“He combines advocacy and activism with an administrative acumen,” Haynes said. “No one down at the county can deny that he’s consistently done his homework and is perhaps the best prepared of the Dallas County elected officials.”
Price has long advocated for those who have been “denied opportunity” in Dallas, Haynes said.
“He has uniquely brought protests and what we call in the black church tradition a prophetic sense of protest to injustice that characterizes so much of Dallas County when he was first elected,” Haynes said. “Dallas County, in terms of the leadership now, looks more like the demographic of the county because of his door-opening efforts.”
Haynes said he’s concerned that Price doesn’t become the “victim of a witch hunt.”
“Whenever you have an African-American who spoke out against injustice, who fought hard against the system, they were also targeted by that same system,” Haynes said. “I’m hoping that this is not the case. I’m hoping he will be the beneficiary of justice as opposed to the victim of a witch hunt. … I’m concerned this advocate of justice is also the recipient of justice that this is fair as opposed to what our history has known and shown, which is a witch hunt.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.