By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the hotly contested races in Dallas County is for Dallas County District Attorney.

Democrat John Creuzot is hoping to unseat Republican Faith Johnson as Dallas County DA, nearly two years after Governor Greg Abbott appointed her to replace Susan Hawk.

John Creuzot (CBS11)

Creuzot, a State District Judge in Dallas County between 1991 and 2012, said there will always be a need to lock up violent and dangerous criminals.

But if elected, he wants to change the way nonviolent offenders are handled by the judicial system. “The umbrella issue is ending mass-incarceration.”

Creuzot says society has learned that being tough on crime costs a lot of money and doesn’t lead to public safety.

So he says the county needs to stop loading up jail cells with those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. “Under four ounces, wouldn’t prosecute it. Not on the first time offender. If they got arrested a second time, we probably, well not probably, we would

look at doing assessments to see if they have any other problems.”

While serving on the bench, he said he led the way on reform by establishing the Divert Court in the county that focused on rehabilitating those probationers addicted to drugs. “Divert court, the re-entry court I started, these are the things that work, that are saving money and reducing crime.”

Creuzot likes to say, “Justice is hard work, justice is heart work,” but for him, it’s not just a slogan, it’s about people going through the system. “If you don’t care about them, and if you aren’t patient because they’re not going to heal overnight, you can’t just send them somewhere for 30 days and expect them to come back perfect and that’s not how it works and so you have to be willing to put in the hard work and you have to have the heart for them to heal.”

He said nonviolent drug offenders should be treated as a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem.

To become DA, Creuzot will have to convince voters he should unseat Johnson. “I’m not really concerned, I think what we have to do is just keep working.”

After our interview Monday afternoon, he planned to walk more neighborhoods to ask residents for their vote Tuesday.

After Being Appointed Dallas County DA, Faith Johnson Now Hoping To Be Elected