Former judge Faith Johnson promised to restore confidence in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office as she was sworn in Monday to become the county's top prosecutor.
"I want to represent the people of Dallas County with integrity and justice and fairness," Johnson said.
Johnson, a Republican, was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in December. She closed her criminal defense attorney practice to accept the governor's request. Johnson also served 17 years as a criminal court judge and seven years as a Dallas County prosecutor.
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Johnson replaces Susan Hawk, also a Republican, who resigned as district attorney in September to focus on her health. In 2014, Hawk defeated Democratic District Attorney Craig Watkins, who was first elected in a 2006 Democratic sweep of Dallas County offices that also removed Johnson from her position as a judge.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Phillip Huffines asked Johnson to demonstrate now that Republicans can lead with compassion and kindness.
"The last couple of years it's been a little up and down, but she's going to turn the office from being inwardly focused to being outwardly focused," Huffines said.
Johnson said she wants to establish a community advisory board and put prosecutors in community outreach offices to improve public access to her agency.
"I do want to follow up. Not just talk and have meetings, but follow up and put action to my words," Johnson said.
People attending her swearing-in ceremony Monday spoke highly of Johnson, including her pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes, of the Potter's House Church in Dallas.
Jakes said Johnson has the rare combination of competence and character.
"I had to be here today. Your church is proud of you," Jakes said.
Bill Wirskye, former chief assistant for Susan Hawk, said he is very excited by Johnson's appointment.
"I think all residents of Dallas County should be just overjoyed and happy. Faith Johnson is a unique type of person who can restore the integrity of the district attorney's office," said Wirskye, now a Collin County prosecutor.
Johnson's term will expire Dec. 31, 2018, and she said she will run for re-election as a Republican.
Johnson said she has been meeting the past few weeks with community leaders seeking cooperation as she takes over as DA.
"I do believe we have to do this a team. It can't be just Faith Johnson the DA trying to make this happen," she said.