Hawk's legacy and those who want to replace her

Hawk steps down: Who will replace her?

DALLAS – At least five people have confirmed to WFAA they'll apply with Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to be appointed as the next district attorney.

“I'd be honored to be considered,” said Messina Madson, the first assistant district attorney who runs daily operations in Hawk’s office.

She said she had yet to send a formal letter to Austin but plans to in the coming days.

In addition, WFAA has learned at least three former judges are asking for the job as well, including Jennifer Balido, Daniel Clancy, and Faith Johnson.

Veteran prosecutor Bill Wirskye, who’s currently the first assistant district attorney in Collin County, said he wants the job, too.

"I know that she believes with all of her heart it's time to step away,” said Madson about her boss. "It was a difficult decision for her. She has given her entire career to the criminal justice system."

Hawk's resignation letter reads more like a resume. It’s two pages and talks about accomplishments, including improving efficiency by reducing the cost of disposition per case and securing more than $2 million in grant funding for the Sexual Assault and Family Violence units, among other things.

But Hawk wasn't there for months of it. She took extended leaves of absence for mental health treatment and resigned, she said, to focus full time on improving her health.

“I also believe she will have a legacy of courage – coming out talking about mental illness,” said Wade Emmert, a friend of Hawk’s, who’s also the former chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party.

Hawk's resignation, though, is only effective when the governor accepts it, and by the close of business Tuesday, Abbott’s office had yet to even receive it.

Still, Democrats blast the timing of Hawk's announcement. They said she quit just after the deadline to put the seat on the ballot and let the voters decide who replaces her. But Republicans say they won that seat and it has a four-year term.

"Those who are critical of the timing wanted a race to the courthouse," Emmert said. "They wanted her to resign and wanted to have an election from the end of August to the first of November. That's just not enough time for the voters to vet candidates."

Hawk's portrait still hangs in the office lobby and will remain until Abbott appoints a successor to fill the last half of her term.

The governor's office said once it gets Hawk's resignation letter it will begin recruiting and vetting candidates. It offered no timeline on when a replacement would be appointed.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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