Johnson takes the helm in a year of change on the Libertyville village board
Running unopposed, Donna Johnson was certain to be elected last month as the first new Libertyville mayor in 12 years.
But she made a point of putting out campaign signs anyway.
The veteran village trustee and community leader wanted to remind voters she would be working for everyone.
"They know who I am. My lead line was 'Leadership you know,'" she said. "I wanted to make sure to (point out) that whether I'm opposed or not, I'm still seeking your support."
Johnson, who headed the village's plan commission/zoning board of appeals for nine years before being elected trustee in 2007, was recruited by outgoing Mayor Terry Weppler, residents and others to run for the top spot.
The guard officially changed Tuesday as Johnson and three new trustees -- Matthew Hickey, Matthew Krummick and Dan Love -- were sworn in. The new trustees replace three incumbents with a combined 30 years of experience who chose not to seek reelection.
Johnson paraphrased the Greek philosopher Aristotle while addressing well-wishers Tuesday at the Libertyville Civic Center during what was the first in-person village board meeting since March 2020.
"You are what you repeatedly do, and I am committed to public service," Johnson said. "While we're here, we need to make a difference."
Her first official action was to recommend a fourth newcomer to the board, Jim Connell, to serve the remainder of her trustee term. The recommendation was unanimously accepted.
It is a transformative time in Libertyville, with new occupants in five of seven seats on the village board.
Leading the way is Johnson, a retired former corporate attorney with the Allstate Insurance Co. She is the second woman and the first person of color to hold the post in Libertyville, which is 1% Black, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
"That speaks volumes about the abilities of our community to look at the value and not let other things get in the way of decision making," said Johnson, who moved to town with her parents in 1979.
Community commitment, hard work and faith have driven her pursuits, she said.
"I don't lead with race. I lead with who I am, my skill set, my abilities and what I bring to the table," she said. "It's one piece of the puzzle."
While on the plan commission/zoning board, Johnson was instrumental in increasing the restaurant and retail presence in downtown Libertyville. As chair of the village board's streets committee, she worked to ensure a $20 million road referendum program was prioritized for voters.
Away from village hall, she chairs the Advocate Condell Medical Center governing board, is involved in various service organizations and is an active member of the proclaimer ministry at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
"This is the journey God has chosen for me in this position in my life and I plan to give it my best," she said.
Joining Johnson are Love, a recently retired Medline Industries executive who is co-chair of Libertyville Days among other activities; Hickey, a stay-at-home dad and former commercial lender and community development investor; and Krummick, former zoning board chair and plan commissioner and a real estate development executive.
Connell owns a social media marketing company and was an unsuccessful candidate in the April election for the Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board.