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State Rep. Dawnna Dukes to Retire Due to Health Concerns

Via Texas Tribune
Austin State Rep. Dawnna Dukes cited health concerns stemming from a 2013 car crash in an announcement of her resignation.

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is resigning in January, she said in a statement Monday. 

The 11-term state representative said her resignation was a result of health issues related to a 2013 car accident and concerns over caring for her 9-year-old daughter. 

"It is with great sadness that I announce today my resignation from my seat in the Texas House of Representatives effective midnight January 10, 2017," Dukes said in a statement. "My resignation is the result of injuries I suffered as the result of a car crash in August 2013 and the health complications stemming from said injuries."

Dukes' name will still be on the November ballot, and if she beats Republican Gabriel Nila, Gov. Greg Abbott could call a special election to fill her vacant seat. The next legislative session begins Jan. 10.

Dukes missed much of the 2015 legislative session and has said her absences were related to her health issues stemming from the car accident. 

Dukes made headlines over the past few months after the Austin American-Statesman found she was seeking reimbursement from the state for travel payments she was not entitled to. In February 2016, the Texas Tribune reported that the auditor's office was investigating her use of state workers on a personal project Dukes oversaw, the African American Heritage Festival. Dukes has said that the allegations against her related to the festival are "nonsense."

"This has been a very difficult decision to make," said Dukes' statement about her resignation. "However, in light of my ongoing health issues and concerns, I find that I can no longer provide the active, effective leadership that is needed to continue my sworn duties.  I must take the time to focus all of my energy to heal and continue to provide for my young daughter and extended family."

Dukes continued: "It has been a tremendous honor to serve the good people of Texas House District 46 for 22 years.  I will continue to keep you in mind during the coming session and beyond.  I ask that you continue to pray for my family and me during this difficult time."

Dukes did not immediately respond to an interview request. Her resignation was first reported by The Quorum Report.

In a statement, Nila said he wishes Rep. Dukes a "full recovery," but added that if Duke's reason for stepping down is due to health concerns, she should step down "immediately" and not after the general election. 

"The reality is that Dawnna Dukes has been under criminal investigation for many months," Nila said in a statement. "We do not yet know the conclusion of that investigation, but the allegations are very serious. ... The constituents of this district deserve to have new representation immediately, not months after the new biennial session begins. If Rep. Dukes wins election to a new two-year term that she plainly does not plan serve, then this district's new representative will be 150th in seniority and will be starting late to build a staff, seek committee slots, file legislation, and get up to speed for the session. For once, Dawnna Dukes should put the district and the taxpayers first and immediately resign."


Alex Samuels is a newsletters fellow for The Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. Alex has worked for USA Today College since her sophomore year and has been a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She also worked as an editorial intern for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.
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