Johnson, 58, is known for helping Jackson get funding for a convention center approved through the Legislature, lowering crime statistics and instituting the city’s first comprehensive plan since 1989. He is criticized for getting things done too slowly, being aloof, if not arrogant, and not working smoothly with other governments and outside authority.
As CEO of a city of more than 184,000 people, Johnson said he lets the criticism roll off because he’s confident Jackson is getting better, economically and socially. He admits to slow results, saying it’s the process of including voices and opinions that makes the best decisions. Respect for the process is as ingrained as breathing.
Although the city demolished 1,815 dilapidated houses by 2004 after targeting only 373, his administration still has been nicked for not cleaning up the boarded-up homes and businesses throughout the city. There’s a backlog of about 300 buildings, with the red tape cleared, waiting to be torn down.
But for Johnson, it’s the same with city economics as it is with social and racial repair – it’s the process.