Retiring U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison are the first recipients of the Dallas Mayors’ Distinguished Service Award.
Despite representing two opposing political parties, the two honorees are longtime friends. Congresswoman Johnson tells NBCDFW they bonded immediately over “trying to get things done.” “We started out together, we took our first oath in public office at the same time, and we have built a friendship that has lasted through the years. We’ve always been no-nonsense people,” said Johnson.
In April, Mayor Eric Johnson decided to work with leaders to choose five residents to honor. Candidates needed to have made a notable impact on the Dallas community and displayed good character. The award came about because Mayor Johnson thinks it’s important for the city to honor its people: “Through the Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award, we can properly honor those individuals who have strengthened our city in truly extraordinary ways,” he said.
Aside from the key to the city, this new award is the highest honor that can be awarded to Dallas civilians. Other recipients include former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, African American Museum founder Harry Robinson, and philanthropist Lyda Hill.
Both women have made history while representing the city. Johnson said the two women represent the best in statesmanship and legislation.
The city renamed the complex previously known as the Dallas Convention Center to Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in 2013 to honor the former senator. She is the first woman to represent the state of Texas in the U.S. Senate.
Congresswoman Johnson served as the first African American and first Chair of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The mayor said “We figured these five would be a great inaugural five that set the tone for the type of person that we want to recognize in this city for what they’ve done. So, I’m really happy that they were all able to be here today.”