Dallas County

Susan Hawk Quits as Dallas County DA. Abbott to Pick Replacement.

After 20 troubled months on the job and repeated stays at treatment centers to deal with depression, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk resigned Tuesday afternoon. Her replacement will be named by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and will serve through the 2018 general election.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve this office and the citizens of Dallas County," Hawk said in a letter to Abbott, "but my health needs my undivided attention."

When Hawk took office in January 2015 after defeating incumbent district attorney Craig Watkins, she became the only Republican to hold countywide office in Dallas. Soon after taking the post, Hawk admitted that she'd sought treatment at an Arizona clinic for drug addiction during the campaign. During her time in office, Hawk would undergo three more in-patient stays in Houston and Arizona for depression and thoughts of suicide.

After Hawk took her latest leave from her office in May, voices calling for her resignation grew stronger, urging Hawk to quit before Aug. 22, which would've allowed time for a district attorney's race to have been placed on this November's ballot. Toby Shook, a former assistant district attorney and Hawk supporter, says that he doesn't believe Hawk's wait was politically motivated.

"Knowing Susan, she wanted to battle as long as she could. I don't think [her decision to step down Tuesday] is based on a political motive. She's a real fighter and I think she held in there as long as she could," Shook says.

Still, according to Shook, it's for the best that Hawk is stepping down.

"I think Ms. Hawk has to think of what's right for her first, and also what's best for the office. She's obviously been battling mental illness and feels it's necessary to resign to successfully fight that battle," he says. "Everyone wishes her luck to do that, but the office obviously needs to move forward, needs a DA that can be engaged."

Hawk admitted in her letter that she was no longer capable of doing her job.

"I believe our office is making a difference and I want to continue to do good work. But last fall upon returning from treatment, I made a commitment to step away from the office if I felt I could no longer do my job and, unfortunately, I've reached that point as my health needs my full attention in the coming months," Hawk wrote.

In a statement, Abbott's office said that it will begin to take applications for Hawk's empty seat and "take the appropriate time to ensure the replacement is best suited to serve the citizens of Dallas County."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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