Strengths and challenges
“I think we have an amazing workforce," Johnson said, adding the best ideas to improve government often come from staff. He's most proud of the work he has done with employees to understand how to take programs with potential and get optimal results, particularly in Human Services.
“I think we are doing a much better job of focusing within that area and demanding results from the programs we fund," Johnson said. “When I came here, we didn't do a particularly good job of measuring those programs or demanding results. We still have a ways to go. I think that's something that someone anywhere on the political spectrum ought to be able to agree on: We want to spend money on programs that work."
Johnson said innovate partnerships will become increasingly important in addressing residents' needs. He pointed to working with social investors to improve existing affordable housing instead of constructing new apartments as an example.
Hennepin County faces challenges because of demographics, such as its aging population.
“Sometimes as a board we have trouble focusing," Johnson said, adding he wishes the board would concentrate on priorities such as providing a safety net for the most vulnerable, public safety and transportation.
Johnson said he is impressed by the strong partnership between the board, county attorney, sheriff and staff to address addiction and mental health issues among jail inmates.
“No one's going to get better in jail if they're mentally ill" and doesn't receive care they need to get better.