Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday appointed Republican Faith Johnson as Dallas County District Attorney, filling the vacancy three months to the day after it opened.
Johnson, 66, will serve as the county’s sixth district attorney since 1951, The Dallas Morning News reports. Her appointment also makes her the first black woman to serve in the role.
Johnson will remain in office through the end of 2018 to finish the term of former Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk, who resigned in September to focus on her mental health.
“Throughout her career, Faith has proven herself a dedicated public servant, most notably as a criminal prosecutor where she attained the status of Chief Felony Prosecutor during her time in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office,” Abbott said in a statement.
“As a former prosecutor, district judge, and while serving on the Department of Public Safety Commission, Faith has shown a commitment to law enforcement and the rule of law,” he says. “She has devoted herself to defending some of our most vulnerable Texans, and I am confident that in her new role as District Attorney, Faith will continue to fight for the people of Dallas County and ensure that justice is served.”
In the ‘80s, Johnson served as a prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney’s office for seven years and then presided over the 363rd District Court in Dallas County for 17 years.
After two years of practicing law for a nonprofit firm, she established her own private practice in 2009 and has been largely out of the public sphere since then, according to the Morning News.
Gov. Rick Perry appointed Johnson as commissioner on the Texas Public Safety Commission in 2014.
She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Dallas Bar Association, J.L. Turner Legal Association, Committee for a Qualified Judiciary, Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the United States Christian Chamber of Commerce, according to the governor’s office.
Johnson is also secretary and a board member for The Potter's House, the Dallas megachurch headed by T.D. Jakes.
Jakes released a statement on Johnson's appointment:
“Faith Johnson's impressive public service record and commitment to upholding the rule of law makes her an excellent choice to serve on behalf of the people of Dallas County. As a former district judge and prosecutor, she exhibited the utmost integrity and fought to ensure justice was served. I applaud Governor Abbott's appointment and his choice is affirming to women and people of color that there is indeed a place for all Americans in his administration. I believe that Faith will restore stability to the Dallas County District Attorney's office and exact due process of the law in a fair and unbiased method! That is always a win for Dallas County and ultimately for Texas!"
Johnson received a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree in community counseling from Georgia State University and a law degree from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law, according to the governor's office. She’s a resident of Cedar Hill.
Johnson would have to run in the 2018 election for a chance to remain in office.
Hawk resigned on Sept. 6 to focus on her mental health. Hawk had been hospitalized three times for depression and anxiety treatment since August 2015. She held office for 20 months of her four-year term. Twelve people applied to be Hawk’s replacement.