The Denison Development Alliance recently recognized outgoing Mayor Jared Johnson for his contributions to the community and its growth over the past 13 years. The DDA presented Johnson with its Community Development Award of Excellence for 2017 during its annual economic development summit.
DDA President Tony Kaai said the award was developed as a way of recognizing the individuals who have the greatest impact on the economic and community development of Denison over the past year. Past recipients include David Owens, plant manager for Ruiz Foods, and Texoma Medical Center CEO Ron Seal.
“It was decided by our committee that our outgoing mayor was that guy for this year,” Kaai said.
Johnson was first elected to the Denison City Council in 2005 and served in that role until 2011 through two terms. Following a one-year break from city politics, Johnson was elected twice as Denison’s mayor in 2012 and 2015.
As this year represents the end of his term limit, Johnson will not be seeking re-election in May. As of Monday afternoon, council member Janet Gott was the only person who had registered to run for the mayor position. In turn, no one had registered to run for Gott’s now vacant seat.
During the presentation of the award, Kaai compared Johnson to the mayors who came before him and the virtues in the Boy Scouts of America. In his presentation of the award, Kaai said Johnson embodied all of the virtues while bringing all the strengths of previous mayors together.
Among the larger initiatives that Johnson helped push forward during his tenure with the city were the creation of a housing task force to gauge and improve the city’s housing initiatives, more than $2.5 million in street repairs in 2017, and the creation of the upcoming Texoma Health Foundation Park, Kaai said.
During his comments at the summit, Johnson said the project nearly died several times throughout its development but ultimately saw fruition thanks to the efforts of the city, THF and developers for Gateway Village.
“There isn’t a single important issue in the community … where he isn’t in the meetings, providing feedback to our team,” Kaai said.
Others who spoke during the award presentation included church and family friends and Gott, who said she got to know Johnson better when she joined the council in 2013.
“For the past 12 years, Jared has been the face of the community,” Gott said during the summit. “I can’t think of anyone more suited for that.”
For his part, Johnson said he noticed a change in Denison’s leadership during his time with the city. While the city has always had strong leaders, it was only recently that those still raising families began to be represented on the council.
“We had exceptional leadership, but there was little young leadership,” Johnson said, noting that the leadership now includes individuals at all phases of life.
Despite his upcoming departure from city leadership, Johnson said there is still work to do, but he is comfortable knowing that the city will be left in capable hands.
“We are going to finish the race, we are going to continue the race and when I leave in May the next set of leaders will step up into place,” Johnson said.