Freshman state Sen. Nathan Johnson says UT inspired run for office

Chad Lyle

Editor’s note: This article is the first of a series of profiles on freshman lawmakers who graduated from UT.

State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, is new to the Texas Legislature this year, but he isn’t new to the City of Austin. The freshman lawmaker graduated from the UT School of Law in 1993 and said he takes pride in having attended the institution.

“You know people take seriously the fact that you went to a law school … where many national and state leaders have gone to school,” Johnson said. “It gives you some sort of credibility and a bond across time with a great many people.”

Before running for the Texas Senate, Johnson co-founded a law firm and owned a music production company where he composed music for the television show “Dragon Ball Z.” Johnson also said he began to think about running for public office while studying at UT.

“Going to the law school itself, when you realize how many civic leaders, civic officials, have gone through that law school, I think it can’t help but plant a little seed in your mind that maybe you too one day would like to commit yourself to similar service with similar goals,” Johnson said.

Johnson represents Texas Senate District 16, which includes part of Dallas — his hometown — and parts of Irving and Carrollton. As he begins to make a name for himself in the legislature’s upper chamber, Johnson said solving issues related to higher education, such as the rising cost of tuition, is one of his many priorities.

“For quite a long time, we’ve had escalating tuition rates, which create all kinds of pressures on students,” Johnson said. “The state’s support for higher education has dwindled. I think there’s a pretty significant agreement behind the idea that we need to do a better job of funding higher education and finding other ways to make it possible for students of any age to pursue higher education without incurring crippling debt.”

Though Johnson has only been a member of the state Legislature for three weeks, he said the best part of his job so far is applying his knowledge from past experiences to solving real-world problems today. 

“I feel like, as a legislator, you’re calling on everything you’ve ever learned and every ability you have,” Johnson said. “It calls on every aspect of you to do something that you think is important. It’s a real privilege to feel like what you’re doing matters.”


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