Hennepin County Commissioner Randy Johnson announced on May 17 that he will not run for reelection to his District 5 seat. The county’s longest-serving commissioner will retire when his term ends in January.
He said that his reasons for retiring are purely personal. With his wife, Polly, he wants to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
“My wife and I want to spend more time with our family and grandchildren,” he said, “While we are both still very healthy, we want to do a lot more travel around the world.”
Johnson was first elected to represent southern Hennepin County in 1978, after practicing law as assistant general counsel for the Federal Election Commission and at the Faegre & Benson law firm.
As he reflects on his career, Johnson said his biggest achievements were also the biggest challenges. They included:
• Co-chairing Gov. Rudy Perpich’s bipartisan blue ribbon commission on welfare reform that unanimously recommended the polices that became Minnesota’s Welfare to Work program
• Enacting the county’s smoke-free ordinance, which made all Hennepin County bars and restaurants smoke-free
• Increasing recycling and composting programs, and building the Hennepin Energy Resource Center to dramatically reduce reliance on landfills
• Restructuring Hennepin County Medical Center’s board, and setting the hospital up as one of the nation’s premier public teaching hospitals
• Guiding consolidation of the suburban and Minneapolis library systems.
Johnson has been invited to testify before Congress more often than any elected county official in U.S. history.
As the county moves forward, Johnson said, he hopes to see current capital projects completed for the people he now serves in Bloomington, Richfield and Eden Prairie, including the Southwest LRT, and Blue Line extension, and relocating the Southdale courthouse to Bloomington.
Johnson’s announcement came at the end of the Budget and Capital Investment Committee’s meeting.
“On behalf of my colleagues on the County Board, I thank Randy for his many years of dedicated and passionate service to the people of Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota,” said County Board chair Jan Callison. “We wish him well as he enjoys the next chapter of his life with his wife and family.”
Johnson also commended the commissioners who have shared his tenure. His term as president of the National Association of Counties (NACo) gave him the opportunity to recognize the high quality of the people elected and hired to work for the residents of Hennepin County, he said.
“I have been fortunate to work with some of the most outstanding elected commissioners and staff in the country,” he said. “The people of Hennepin County deserve the best and that’s what Hennepin County has been working to deliver.”
Future adventures will include hiking Machu Picchu, exploring New Zealand and Australia, visiting China and taking river cruises in Europe.
With his wife, Polly, his first trip, will be to visit his daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren in Vancouver, British Columbia.