Commissioner Randy Johnson represents the 160,000 people who live in the cities of Richfield, Bloomington, and Eden Prairie. He chaired the County Board in 2004-2008 and in 1997-2001.
He was elected in 1978 and re-elected nine successive times, running without opposition in four elections. He chaired the 1998 and 2002 Republican State Conventions and has been endorsed by the Republican party and almost every major labor union.
Commissioner Johnson was the first Minnesota-elected president of the National Association of Counties (NACo), the national organization that represents the nation’s 3,100 counties. He was also the first person in NACo’s history to run unopposed.
As President of NACo, Commissioner Johnson stressed the importance of helping counties become more “global, digital, and sustainable." He accepted the first invitation ever offered by the Chinese Government to lead a delegation of locally elected county officials to the People’s Republic of China and subsequently established an exchange program of elected local officials between the two countries; negotiated an agreement to provide an advanced computer mapping Geographic Information System at no cost to all NACo member counties; was named a ‘GIS Hero’ by Esri (Commissioner Randy Johnson Evangelizes Importance of GIS at Local and National Level); and co-chaired the first meeting at the White House of NACo’s partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors that established the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities.
Commissioner Johnson has been invited to testify before Congress more often and on more issues than any elected county official in history.
Commissioner Johnson is considered an international authority on environmental issues. With his leadership, Hennepin County established a comprehensive recycling and integrated solid waste management program that is consistently cited as one of the best in North America. He has addressed conferences at the United Nations and abroad on such issues as alternative fuels, climate change, waste management, new technologies and health care.
Commissioner Johnson was elected to be one of the 500 Fellows of the Congressionally Chartered National Academy for Public Administration in Washington, D.C. He is one of the very few elected county officials ever to become an Academy Fellow.
Commissioner Johnson oversaw a major change in governance of the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a 600 bed public teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Minnesota. He served on the new HCMC board of directors.
Commissioner Johnson served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (now known as Clear Way Minnesota), the unique foundation that is responsible for allocating more than $200 million of Minnesota’s settlement with the tobacco companies.
Commissioner Johnson co-chaired the Governor’s Bi-partisan Blue-Ribbon Commission on Welfare Reform which broke a bitter legislative deadlock and unanimously set the framework for Minnesota’s innovative welfare reform efforts.
He has served as chair of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, Metropolitan 911 Board, Metropolitan Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, Metropolitan Emergency Services Board, Metro Counties Energy Task Force, Metro GIS Policy Committee, RDF Advisory Committee, and Health Futures Institute. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, United Way, Association of Minnesota Counties, Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association Meet Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota China Center Advisory Council.
In Washington, D.C., Commissioner Johnson has served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Place-Based Decision-Making; Environmental Protection Agency Local Government Advisory Committee; Department of Interior National Geospatial Advisory Committee; Federal Communications Commission State and Local Government Advisory Committee; Federal Geographic Data Committee; Housing and Urban Development Community Builders’ Advisory Board; Urban Institute’s Assessing the New Federalism Advisory Committee; National Council for Science and the Environment board of directors; the Department of Justice’s National Task Force on Interoperability; and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) board for the Geo-Spatial One-Stop service.
Government Technology magazine named Commissioner Johnson as one of its “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology," saying that he had helped "lead the digital revolution in government throughout its infancy and early development."
Commissioner Johnson also served on the Policy Group on Strategic Computing as well as the Executive Session on Public Sector Performance Management and Outcome Measurement at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Commissioner Johnson received a J.D. degree "cum laude" from the University of Minnesota Law School where he was a member of the Law Review; a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College in St. Paul; and a diploma “with honors” from Minneapolis South High School.
Prior to his election, Commissioner Johnson was Assistant General Counsel at the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C.; an associate in the Faegre and Benson law firm in Minneapolis; legal assistant at the National Coal Board in London, England; and Legislative Assistant to Minnesota’s first Commissioner of Human Rights.
After graduating from law school, Commissioner Johnson and his wife "sold everything they owned and borrowed all the money they could" and spent the next year working in London, England, and hitchhiking in Europe, North Africa and Turkey.
He and his wife, Polly, live in Bloomington. They have two daughters, one who graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and teaches elementary school in Vancouver, British Columbia; and another who graduated from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) after studying at Normandale College and the University of Hawaii, and works for the St. Paul school district.
"If effective county leaders are those who set examples as well as policy, then Hennepin County Commissioner Randy Johnson is one of the most effective county leaders around."