Ann Johnson

Ann Johnson will be sworn in alongside Mary Gonzalez in January if she wins the general election in November, which would bring two openly lesbian legislators to a body where an openly LGBT representative has been absent for a decade.

Johnson, a former Harris County assistant district attorney who now focuses on child advocacy cases in a private practice, ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary in Houston’s House District 134. She will face one-term Republican incumbent Sarah Davis in November.

The Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed Johnson this week, an endorsement that means Johnson could very well win the seat in what she calls a swing district.

“I think our chances are great, and I think our chances are great because this is a fantastic district that values education and values a strong Texas economy,” she said.
Johnson wants to focus on making public education in Texas a leader in the nation instead of it “trailing the nation.”

“I think it’s clear from a lot of people that we have got to have people in the Texas Legislature that are going to make education a priority and I welcome joining that fight,” she said.

Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison said having two openly LGBT legislators join the Texas House would intensify the impact and change in dialogue among the conservative-controlled House.

“Ann’s deep experience as an assistant district attorney and legal advocate for kids makes her well-suited to serve in the Texas House,” he said. “She is carrying on her family’s impressive legacy of public service, and we are proud to support her campaign.”

Johnson said she plans to seek Equality Texas’ endorsement, but Deputy Director Chuck Smith said both Johnson and Davis have expressed interest in working with the organization. After runoffs in July, Smith said both candidates will be evaluated before an endorsement is announced.

Davis voted for some anti-bullying legislation but also supported efforts to defund campus LGBT resource centers at Texas universities.

Johnson said she would support LGBT legislation, but highlighted that her election would mainly benefit her campaign platform for better education and a stronger economy.

“I think winning is going to be a victory for District 134 and I think it’s going to be a victory for the state because there needs to be the kind of leadership who will stand up in Austin and fight for those that need fighting for,” she said.

— Anna Waugh

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 29, 2012.