Meet your Seat 4 incumbent: Commissioner Shirley Johnson

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you have lived in Delray, where you live, your profession, your family.

Married for 50 years with two children and three granddaughters. Howard University graduate and IBM retiree. Worked for IBM over 30 years. Howard University graduate. Born in and currently reside in NW Delray and have lived in this area of the City for over 35 years.  Community activist and independent thinker.

Have served on the City Commission for the past three years and am seeking re-election.

Have also served as a CRA Commissioner for past one and a half years. I am experienced, dedicated and strongly believe in inclusiveness, diversity and civility. I have voted consistently for issues that benefit all residents.

My major accomplishments include:

1) Support of the Comprehensive Plan, which deals with improved transportation, mobility, historic preservation, and a heathier community.

2) Worked to further development West of Swinton Avenue and to improve sidewalks and alleyways and to promote affordable housing and development without displacement.

3) Served on the Board of the Palm Beach County League of Cities and on the State LOC Municipal Administration Legislative Committee.  I am a strong advocate of home rule.  Our cities are better equipped to decide certain issues for themselves rather than being told what to do by the state.

4) Advocate for a complete commitment to our role in the “Green Implementation Plan” and strongly support the effort of coastal cities in our County working together to combat rising tides and climate change.

Why are you running for office and what experiences qualify you to be a commissioner?

As the incumbent, I’m asking for another term of service.  I have consistently voted without political calculation but always with the thought of “how will it benefit the whole City and preserve the charm of Delray Beach” in an effort to make Delray a better place for all residents

Qualifying experiences – lifetime of helping others achieve their goals, Community Improvement Activist, Motherhood, Spouse for over 50 years, church membership, resident for 35 years (entire time as a NW resident), worked full time as City Commissioner for 3 years and Community Redevelopment Agency Commissioner for one and a half years.

What are the top three issues you want to address in the city if elected or re-elected?

Sensible development I95 to A1A benefitting all residents of our City.;

Seek economic opportunities/benefits, affordable/workforce housing and public safety;

Stabilize the City’s Management/Personnel.

Delray is known as the “Village by the Sea” but it is also a popular city. How would you balance “keeping the charm” with the need to grow the tax base as the city attracts more people?

In order to maintain balance, every vote cast must be with a seriousness of purpose.  No one developer or group of citizens must be allowed to dictate decisions that are not for the benefit of the entire City.

Example, while a project could potentially bring millions, it must be designed, built, and have traffic studied with the “charm of our Village by the Sea” in mind.  The same should be true of our private home builders.  Does the project “fit” the neighborhood?  Such questions MUST be asked with each request presented to the City Commission and the CRA.

City Hall has had a lot of turnover with city staff. Why do you think that is and how would you work to re-establish stability?

The instability of personnel is due to a lack of leadership at the City Manager/Commission level.  I’m committed to working with the new City Manager to ensure success.  He will work with the Commission and residents to present a unified path forward.

How do you approach the relationship you will have as a commissioner with city staff?

Our City has a direct City Manager system of accountability and reporting.  The Commission directs the City Manager, City Attorney and the Internal Auditor.  Those three employees manage the City’s personnel.

I respect this divide and, with permission, met with many of the staff and personnel to inquire about the requirements of their work and their successes while seeking suggestions for improvements.  With management’s full awareness and approval of my findings, I then sought to implement whatever changes were mandated and appropriate at the Commission level.

I have always worked with, supported and represented all City residents and will continue to be their advocate.