ALAMO HEIGHTS — “PRAGMATIC” AND “SCRAPPY” are adjectives new Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Trish DeBerry often uses to describe herself.
Both traits have served her well.
After a long, grueling campaign in the middle of a pandemic, DeBerry, 55, emerged as one of two newly elected female county commissioners, along with Rebeca Clay-Flores in Precinct 1.
It’s only the second time a pair of women concurrently serves on the five-member county court. The previous officeholders were Cyndi Taylor Krier and Helen Dutmer in the late 1990s.
DeBerry, mother to two teens, former journalist and founder of The DeBerry Group, a successful public-relations firm, learned effective communications early as the youngest in a big family.
Her childhood was spent in a modest home near Loop 410 and Starcrest Drive.
“It was constant chaos. There was just one bathroom for the six of us children. You become very scrappy when you’re fighting to be heard at the dinner table,” she said.
DeBerry went to Serna Elementary and Garner Middle schools. When the family moved to Hidden Forest, she enrolled at Churchill High School.
“People thought we were moving to the boonies – that there was nothing out there,” she said. “Now, the boonies are very centrally located.”
DeBerry attended Trinity University, and then spent a decade with KENS-TV. At 30, she co-founded Guerra DeBerry Coody, an advertising and PR company; and in 2012, after an amicable split with business partner Frank Guerra, opened The DeBerry Group.
Her 2020 political aspirations weren’t DeBerry’s first. In 2009, she unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Julián Castro. Even then, she declared, “You haven’t seen the last of me.”
When Republican Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff, the son of County Judge Nelson Wolff, announced a return to the private sector, DeBerry began thinking about what became her successful bid for Commissioners Court Nov. 3.
She and ex-husband Carlos Mejia resided in Bluffview, but when they divorced she moved to Alamo Heights.
“It was closer to my office downtown and to school programs and sporting events,” she said. Her daughter, Mattie, is a sophomore at Alamo Heights High School; son, Scott, named for an elder brother killed in a private plane crash in the ‘90s, is an Austin Community College freshman.
DeBerry already has strong priorities, starting with mobility. Expanding Blanco Road north of Loop 1604 is a big issue for her.
“There’s real need for more expansion out of town around Timberwood Park,” she said. “It’s a complicated project. We have to leverage the city and the Texas Department of Transportation.”
Adding high-occupancy vehicle lanes to Interstate 10 West, expanding U.S. 281 North, and improving the 1604/I-10 intersection are all important, she said.
The staunch conservative disapproved of the recent ballot initiative devoting sales-tax revenue to VIA Metropolitan Transit starting in 2026.
“Precinct 3 has a lot of suburban municipalities – Shavano Park, Timberwood Park, Hollywood Park, Hill Country Village, Castle Hills. A majority in the precinct (does) not ride the bus, so at the end of the day, their question is, ‘What’s in it for me?’” she said. “And, what is the return on the investment?”
Her outspoken opposition didn’t stop VIA Board Chairwoman Hope Andrade, who stepped down in December, from backing DeBerry and becoming her campaign treasurer.
“My friendship with Trish has spread out more than 20 years. When she first reached out to me about her interest in running, before she ended her statement, I was already saying, ‘Yes!’” Andrade said. “As a small-business owner, she brings a true understanding of what it means to sign the front of checks, instead of the back. She understands financials, and believes in smaller government, and she is a great communicator.”
The outgoing Wolff said he and DeBerry share similar views.
“I have known Trish for many years. I supported her when she ran for mayor. Then, when I saw the work she did on the board of Centro San Antonio a couple of years ago to fix a broken organization, I thought, ‘This is a person who not only has the skill set to run for office, but she also has the skill set to do the office right,’” he said.
Wolff and DeBerry have already discussed ways to combine some functions of the city’s Metropolitan Health District and the powerful University Health System.
A military brat, DeBerry is the daughter of a career Air Force officer and stepdaughter of a Navy man; her mother worked as a Fort Sam Houston civil servant. She’s deeply committed to maintaining Wolff’s relationship with the Bexar County Military and Veterans Services Center.
“If we continue to grow it we could be a national model,” she said. DeBerry is also passionate about increasing job-placement services for “trailing spouses” of military men and women.