Tamiko Francis-Garrison, wearing a white suit, placed her hand on a family Bible as she was sworn in Dec. 31 by Judge Erin Wiley-Lanoux as the justice of the peace for the 1st Justice Court.
Francis-Garrison is the first Black woman to serve in the office, she said. But she's not the first in her family elected to an office or use that Bible to take the oath of office. Her father, the late Bernard “BJ” Francis Sr., used the same Bible in 1992 when he was sworn in as mayor of Donaldsonville and her uncle Reginald Francis Sr. used the family Bible when he took his oath as a Donaldsonville city councilman.
The swearing-in was a private ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions held at City Hall in Donaldsonville. Francis-Garrison took office Jan. 1 and one of her first duties was swearing in her uncle to his seat on the City Council.
Francis-Garrison's attire was a nod to the suffragettes of the women’s suffrage march held on March 3, 1913. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., she also honored the 22 founders of the sorority, who were among those at that march.
"I promise to work hard, to be fair, and to ensure the 1st Justice Court is fully accessible to the community that I love," said Francis-Garrison.
The Democrat was elected Dec. 5, winning a runoff against the 42-year incumbent, Andrew Falcon.
Francis-Garrison, 52, is not new to public service. In 2006, she served as the interim Ascension Parish councilwoman for District 1, making history as the first Black woman to serve in that role.
She is the daughter of the late Bernard “BJ” Francis Sr. and the late Janet Ganes Francis, who was affectionately known as “the woman who brought Juneteenth to Donaldsonville.”
Francis-Garrison found out a few weeks ago that she is not the first in her family to serve in the role as justice of the peace. Her maternal great-great-grandfather, Louis Butler Sr., was elected as justice of the peace for the First Ward in Ascension Parish on Nov. 7, 1876. Butler served in various roles over the years: distinguished of the Convention & Assembly of the Reconstruction of the State of Louisiana in 1867 and state representative in 1874.
She has been married to her husband, Ira, for over 13 years and they have one daughter, Tamiko.