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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County’s newly appointed District Attorney is hitting the ground running. Faith Johnson, a former chief felony prosecutor and state district judge, today met with her transition team, and is already making plans, making changes, and acknowledging the challenges ahead.
“It is a tough job,” says Johnson, while adding with a laugh, “and I love tough!”
Good. She will likely find lots of it. The Dallas county district attorney’s office has been operating amid chaos and or uncertainty for months. DA Susan Hawk formally resigned in September following extended absences from the office as she struggled with mental health issues. Governor Greg Abbott appointed Johnson to fill the remainder of her term on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if I’ve been able to feel it yet,” says Johnson. “I’m so excited. I am so elated. The idea that the the governor would trust me with this responsibility. I consider it a privilege, an honor, and I so want to do an excellent job.”
Johnson says she will work to restore morale in the office, and confidence in the community. As a former prosecutor, she says she has tried death penalty cases and supports the death penalty. But, she will also expand the conviction integrity unit, which works to free those wrongly convicted.
“I’m getting ready to go into partnership with the citizens of Dallas county. Everybody. And I want them to know that we’re in this together. People in North Dallas don’t like crime. People in South Dallas don’t like it either.”
Johnson, a Republican, will be the first Black woman to lead the DA’s office. So far, the reaction to Johnson’s appointment is positive.
“She is an accomplished black female Republican, so what the governor was trying to do is find someone who would be a good DA in Dallas county; but, who might have a chance of holding the seat for the Republicans two years from now,” says Cal Jillson, a Political Science professor at SMU, “good appointment.”
Jillson says Johnson was handed the DA’s job. But, as a Republican in a Democratic leaning county, she will have to work hard to keep it. “Voters are more sophisticated than they often get credit for,” says Jillson, “they know that it’s not just a face. Behind those faces are policies, and those policies either work for the communities of color in South Dallas or they don’t and traditionally they’ve thought that Republican policies don’t work for them.”
Still, Jillson believes that even those who don’t trust Republican policies, should give Johnson a chance to prove that she can deliver justice to all of her constituents.
“You can count on me,” says Johnson, “I will show up, I will work hard, I will do good by you. You will be pleased with what you see in this office.”
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