For the past 13 years, Jared Johnson has been a near-constant figure in Denison politics, first as a city council member, and later the city’s mayor. Now, as Johnson reaches the end of his term limit as mayor, he is preparing to move on to the next stage of his life and career.
The city of Denison will hold a party for Johnson and council member Bill Malvern Monday at 5 p.m. as both prepare to depart the council. Following the party, the city council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. to canvass the vote from the May 5 election, swearing in new candidates to fill their seats.
“It is really bittersweet — I am a firm believer in term limits in elected positions, but I am going to miss the team,” Johnson said earlier this month.
Johnson will be succeeded by Janet Gott, who was unopposed in her bid to become the next mayor. Following the canvassing of the votes, Gott will take over the position Monday.
Johnson was first elected to the council in 2005 and served in that role for six years. Following a one-year break from city politics, Johnson was elected as Denison’s mayor in 2012 and was unopposed in his bid for re-election in 2015.
“I certainly had an interest in local government at the time, and my wife and I decided it was a decision the family could handle,” he said, noting he was the one council member who was still raising a family.
When he first stepped into politics, Johnson said Denison was approaching a point of transition. While growth was soon approaching Denison from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, there were several projects that needed to take place ahead of this expansion.
Johnson said he could not highlight simply one of the projects that took place under his tenure that helped prepare the city for growth, as there were several. Among them are a series of capital improvements, including ongoing water infrastructure updates and a new method for paying for yearly road infrastructure improvements. In addition to the large-scale water system improvements, Johnson said the city now uses automated meter reading for its water service as a way to improve efficiency.
Other projects include the opening of the new Southside Fire Station — the first new public city building built since the 1970s — in 2014. Johnson also highlighted the reversal of the ramps on U.S. Highway 75 at Morton Street, among other projects.
“Denison looks a lot different today than it did then,” Johnson said, referring to when he took office. “It will continue to look different five and 10 years from now thanks to the leadership in town.”
With the transition away from public office, Johnson said he wanted to focus on his career and family. However, he would not rule out a return to politics in some form in the future.
“I will continue to be invested in Denison in ways that will benefit the community,” he said.
With regard to Gott and the next generation of Denison leadership, Johnson said he was confident that she would be able to continue to address the needs of the city as they arise.
“The city is going to be in very capable hands,” Johnson said of Gott. “I have worked with her for five years, and I am impressed by her ability to tackle the issues before us.”
For her part, Gott said she knew Johnson before she took office, but got to know him significantly better over the past five years she served on the council.
“For six years now, Jared has been the face of our community and a voice for our people,” she said. “I don’t think there is a person better suited for that.”
Among the things Gott said she will remember in working with Johnson was how he approached brainstorming ideas with a group. Gott said that if someone proposed an idea, Johnson would expect them to be able to back up and defend their position.
“The thing that was the most obvious to me … was he lives with a fuel and a passion for the people of Denison,” she said.