Dallas County is a Texas county located in north Texas officially part of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan statistical area. Informally it is part of the North Texas region (sometimes called North Central Texas), one half of the Dallas/Fort Worth or DFW area and a significant portion of the region referred to as the metroplex. Dallas County is the second largest county in Texas by population and the ninth largest county by population in the nation.
County Government in Dallas County
Dallas, Texas is the county seat with the majority of the county’s population and land mass. Dallas is the third largest city in Texas by population and ninth largest by population in the nation. The county government primarily resides in downtown where it operates courts, administrative buildings and other administrative operations.
The county government operates exclusively within the confines of the county which is adjacent to Tarrant County, Denton County, Collin County, Ellis County, Rockwall County and Kaufman County. The county government is the county judge elected by county-wide vote. The primary governing body for the county is the commissioners court which includes the county judge plus four commissioners who are elected by their respective precinct. The commissioners court does not hear lawsuits like most courts. Their responsibilities are administrative with judicial authority to hear cases transferred to the Dallas County Courts at Law.
The commissioners court primarily deals with oversight and budgetary responsibilities within the county. They set budgets for the county governance agencies and districts ran by the county including Road and Bridge districts and the hospital district which oversees county-level public works.
Dallas County government also includes agencies subordinate to the commissioners court. Some agencies are ran by elected officials while others are administratively appointed by the court. These county agencies include the district attorney, district clerk, county clerk, sheriff, constables, tax assessor-collector and treasurer.
Within the county are also governments and government offices that do not report to the county, including city and town governments, state representatives and senators, judges and U.S. representatives. Some of the representative and senator districts within Dallas County include areas outside of Dallas County.
Dallas County Geography
In addition to Dallas, Texas there are a number of cities within the county. Many of these cities are only partially within Dallas County with the remainder in one or more adjacent counties. These include Balch Springs, Cedar Hill, Carrollton, Cockrell Hill, Combine, Coppell, DeSoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Ferris, Garland, Glenn Heights, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Hutchins, Irving, Lancaster, Lewisville, Mesquite, Ovilla, Richardson, Rowlett, Sachse, Seagoville, University Park, Wilmer and Wylie. Dallas County also includes the towns of Addison, Highland Park and Sunnyvale and one unincorporated community of Sand Branch.
Dallas County also includes some or all of a number of independent school districts including Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, Coppell ISD, Dallas ISD, DeSoto ISD, Duncanville ISD, Ferris ISD, Garland ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Highland Park ISD, Irving ISD, Lancaster ISD, Mesquite ISD, Richardson ISD and Sunnyvale ISD.
Although these cities, towns and school districts are government entities within the county they are not subordinate to the county government. They are independent governments with their own authority under state law. There is often coordination between local and county government due to the overlap of responsibilities and resources.
Courts in Dallas County
Dallas County includes several overlapping judicial systems of local, county, state and federal courts. County level courts in Dallas County include the civil and criminal County Courts at Law, statutory probate courts and justice of the peace courts. The county is also home to the Dallas County District Courts that hear both civil and criminal cases. Dallas is also home to the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas. The appellate court hears appeals from county and district courts within the county (and some surrounding counties). The individual cities operate their own municipal courts that hear certain misdemeanors and city ordinance violations within the city limits. The county is also within the U.S. Northern District of Texas and has its own division of federal district courts with jurisdiction over most civil and criminal cases under federal law.
Irving, Texas is a mid-size city near Dallas, Texas. The town resides entirely within Dallas County. It is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the larger North Texas region. It resides between DFW Airport and Dallas but shares borders with Farmers Branch, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Carrollton and Dallas. The town is home to two distinct city regions: Las Colinas and Valley Ranch. It is home to University of Dallas and a wide array of businesses including Exxon-Mobil, Kimberly-Clark, Fluor Corporation, Citigroup, Verizon, Aegis Communications, Allstate, YRC Worldwide, Nokia, JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft.
Irving, Texas Origins West of Dallas
The area that is now Irving was once home to many smaller settlements that reach back to the early days of Anglo-American settlement in the DFW area. Anglo settlers began arriving in the 1840s and 1850s. Separate settlements dotted present-day Irving through the nineteenth century, including Gorbit and Kit. As rail lines were laid throughout North Texas there were several lines running from Dallas to Fort Worth. Two men working for the railroads realized a line would cause the area to grow.
They acquired a parcel of land in the area and platted a town they called Irving. The name arose from author Washington Irving, favorite author of one of the men. The town began in 1903 and grew rapidly, overtaking and then absorbing local settlements. Irving incorporated in 1914 and grew at a moderate pace through the early and mid twentieth century. Through this time the town was a popular location for businesses like most of western Dallas County.
Things began changing in the 1970s. In 1974 DFW Airport opened, making the town a convenient location for businesses looking for close proximity to the airport. In the 1970s Las Colinas developed in the middle area of the city. Las Colinas was one of the first private, master planned communities in the country with the goal to bring in business and residents. Although Las Colinas is still a work in progress it is home to many Fortune 500 companies and growing its residential base.
The northern parts of the town developed as Valley Ranch, another planned development. Valley Ranch is largely residential and companies serving residents with shopping and dining but there is commerce as well. Today Irving is a diverse city with a wide range of commercial interests.
Irving, TX Laws & Government
Irving is served by its city government, Dallas County and DFW Airport. Students primarily attend Irving ISD schools; but some parts of the city are within the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Coppell ISD and Carrollton ISD.
Grand Prairie, Texas
Grand Prairie, Texas is a mid-sized city that spans Tarrant County, Dallas County and Ellis County. The long city is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the larger North Texas region. It is part of the mid-cities region between Dallas and Fort Worth. Grand Prairie’s neighbors are Arlington, Irving, Dallas and Cedar Hill.
Grand Prairie, Texas: A Dallas and Fort Worth History
In the mid-nineteenth century Dallas County sought development by selling large plots of land cheaply. Dechman, a citizen of Birdville in Tarrant County, bought land in what is now Grand Prairie in 1863 for $200 of Confederate money, a wagon and a team of ox. He filed a town plat with Dallas County in 1867. In 1876 he traded half the land to the T&P railroad to ensure a railroad came to the fledgling town. In 1877 he submitted paperwork to the U.S. Postal Service to build a post office. The postal workers were unable to read the form and named the post office Deckman. Confusion arose about the correct name causing T&P to rename their depot Grand Prairie. The postal service followed suit and Grand Prairie became the permanent name.
Grand Prairie, Texas employment
Grand Prairie began developing more rapidly in the late nineteenth century into the twentieth century. Growth outpaced available services and residents voted to incorporate in 1909 to ensure city services were available and regulate house construction to ensure safe construction. The area near Grand Prairie and west Dallas County became a popular location for manufacturing firms particularly in defense and aviation. In 1940 Dallas gave a boost to the local industry by constructing Hensley Field in the area and cemented the close relationship between aviation, defense and the western side of Dallas County.
The town fought rapidly to develop city resources for the growing population. To the west was a small but more modern town of Dalworth Park (not to be confused with Dalworthington Gardens) was attracting business so the town annexed the town in 1942. Dallas had similar thoughts and annexed Hensley Field and surrounded areas including prized industrial areas. The town followed suit and annexed land over time with development accelerating in the 1960s and beyond. Grand Prairie developed a taste for aggressive annexation. In the 1980s Grand Prairie annexed several local smaller towns, ensuring Grand Prairie’s dominance in west Dallas County. Today Grand Prairie is a mixture of industrial and residential. It is one of the larger cities in Dallas and Tarrant Counties.
Grand Prairie, TX Legal and Government
Grand Prairie receives services through its city government as well as Tarrant County, Dallas County and Ellis County respectively. Students in the town mostly attend Grand Prairie ISD schools but students in parts of the city attend schools in Arlington ISD, Mansfield ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, Irving ISD and Midlothian ISD. A variety of private schools are available within the area as well.