Dawnna Dukes arrives late to House chambers, is sworn in to 12th term


Following through on her surprising last-minute decision to renege on her promise to leave office, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Tuesday arrived a few minutes late to the Texas House chambers for the first day of the 2017 legislative session and took the oath of office.

Facing a criminal investigation and saying she was too ill to serve, the Austin Democrat announced in September she would step down at the end of her 11th term. That would have created a vacancy to be filled by a special election during the 2017 session, and candidates had already lined up to replace her.

Instead, she changed her mind days before the session began, sending shockwaves through the political community, upending the plans of those who had planned to run for her seat and adding a new twist to the pending criminal investigation against her.

Speaking to reporters after being sworn in, Dukes said she decided to come back because constituents had urged her to continue serving and because her health had improved following complications from a 2013 car crash.

“Doctors gave me the green light, constituents, former members, present members were really encouraging me to change my mind and they were using every argument possible,” she said.

She declined to discuss the pending criminal probe, saying, “Anything concerning legal is in the process, or not, and I don’t plan on discussing it.”

Also on Tuesday, new Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore is being briefed by the Texas Rangers on the case against Dukes, who is accused of misusing legislative personnel and campaign money.

Moore has said she will decide whether to seek an indictment against Dukes following the briefing.

Former Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole, who planned to run in the special election to replace Dukes, will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Correction: Sheryl Cole was misidentified as a former mayor of Austin. She was mayor pro-tem.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Top contract oversight official at Texas health agency resigns
Top contract oversight official at Texas health agency resigns

The top procurement official for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has resigned — the fifth departure from the agency as it answers to multiple contracting flaps this month. Ron Pigott, deputy executive commissioner of procurement and contracting services, resigned Friday from the agency. Agency officials did not provide a reason...
'Scarface' stars, fans reunite to say hello to their little friends
'Scarface' stars, fans reunite to say hello to their little friends

Fans of “Scarface” were more than happy to say hello to their little friends Thursday. Members from the 1983 movie -- known for its violence and profanity, and a cult classic -- had a reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Daily News reported. Al Pacino, who played Cuban immigrant-turned-drug-lord Tony Montana, appeared...
COMMUNITY NEWS: West Lake Hills warns of mail theft

TRAVIS COUNTY WEST LAKE HILLS City officials warn residents of mail theft City of West Lake Hills officials say they are aware of recent incidents involving mail service including missing packages and mailbox tampering. The city says residents can reduce their chance of being victimized by signing up with the post office to see images of the mail that...
New programs prepare young professionals for leadership
New programs prepare young professionals for leadership

Millennials make up 35 percent of the U.S. workforce, making them the largest generation in the workforce today, and as their numbers grow, their need for leadership training grows with it. In Austin, a number of new and existing programs are expanding to meet that need, focusing on not just professional development but community engagement as well...
The Continental Club in the 1960s had a different dress code
The Continental Club in the 1960s had a different dress code

A reader asks our Austin Answered project: “Was the Continental Club a sleazy topless bar back in the early 1960s? I remember having a roommate in 1963 who danced there.” Yes. What was founded by Morin Scott in 1957 on South Congress Avenue as a swanky jazz supper club became by the early ’60s what has been variously described as...
More Stories