Retired property claims manager Bob Johnson says he’s the man “who can try to find common ground that people agree on.”
Sixty-six-year-old Johnson is running for city council Ward 1 against 23-year old Southern Miss grad student Jeffrey George.
After hearing of Kim Bradley of Ward 1 not running again, Johnson said he and his long-time wife Martha prayed about it, and he made the decision to run. He said he is confident that he is knowledgeable and capable of being the next city councilman of Ward 1.
“I dealt with large corporations, big budgets, and lots of employees,” he said.
Johnson worked as a property claims manager with traveler’s insurance for the state of Mississippi for 36 years.
“I’ve spent a career of dealing with people who weren’t very happy because of claim situations,” Johnson said. “We managed those expectations with people who weren’t very happy. So, I feel like I could certainly add something.”
He believes his insurance background gives him insight on what to expect.
“In the business world, if you’re not being efficient you get laid off,” Johnson said. “In the city world, when you don’t become efficient you start paying more taxes. People don’t want to pay any more taxes,” he said.
Johnson considers Hattiesburg as his home and is “invested in the community having lived here for 54 years.”
“It’s a great place to live,” Johnson said. “It has good citizens; they want to see this place succeed. I want to see it succeed.”
He attended local public schools Thames Elementary School and graduated from Hattiesburg High School in 1968. He then pursued a Bachelor’s degree in finance and personnel management at Mississippi State University.
“[Management] That was something I always cherished – being a leader,” Johnson said. “By leadership, it means people are going to take action based on your conduct as a leader.”
The Republican candidate is also involved in public service through Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp as a financial officer and Trinity Episcopal Church chairman of the finance committee.
Johnson said following the late-January tornado as his role in Trinity Episcopal Church he helped members.
“With my church everybody that had a claim and had difficulty getting their claim set up, I offered a service that I would meet with them and go over what was happening and try to explain to them what was covered, not covered, considered as damages and what was not considered damages,” he said.
Having lived in Ward 1 since 2003, Johnson looks to help improve it in numerous ways.
He wants to give the Economic Development team the tools to attract jobs to this community of Hattiesburg that are not just jobs but careers.
He plans to work swiftly and seek opportunities to streamline local government to get the most for everyone’s tax dollars while working with citizens within Ward 1 to identify infrastructure issues and give priority those issues.
Although there is much he wants to get accomplished, Johnson is aware of the challenges he anticipates seeing in the upcoming term.
Johnson said he seeks to change the environment that he describes as “us versus them.” He said his number one priority is to help citizens become “stakeholders” in the community.
With his campaign titled, “Leadership with experience,” he hopes to show leadership skills in which to inspire all citizens to take action to improve the city.
Johnson describes his opponent Jeffrey George as “very eloquent.”
He addressed the fact that George and himself decided to “have fun doing this” and that the election “isn’t life or death.” Johnson believes citizens may potentially vote based on age. Johnson encourages those of all ages to vote on May 2nd.