Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Johnson plans to stay involved in government

Dec 18, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Shortly after it became known Washington City Council mayor pro tem Sandra Johnson was going to take over as mayor of Washington, someone asked what her plans were in the position. She said she hoped to remind the people of Washington the meaning of the word “neighbors.”

After close to 18 years in public service on the council, Johnson announced that she would not seek re-election during the city elections in October. Tuesday will be the last regular meeting she will serve as mayor before passing the gavel on to new Mayor Jaron Rosien during the first council meeting in January. Having been the first woman mayor of Washington, she feels she has left a good legacy for people to follow.

An open house will be held in the Washington Public Library from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. Tuesday for Johnson and outgoing council member Kathryn Salazar.

After being sworn onto the council Jan. 1, 2000, Johnson became mayor in 2008 after former mayor Rick Cicalo died suddenly. She has since run for office in 2009 and 2013. She said the Friday before the election in 1999, Sen. Mark Shearer recruited her for the at-large position in which no one had taken out papers to run. Johnson said when approached she had initially said that she didn’t feel she had the background to go on the council.

“I didn’t feel I had stayed abreast of the issues other than reading the paper,” she said. “I had never been to a council meeting. I had never been to any committee meetings. I didn’t feel I had the knowledge base to do the jobe adequately.”

Johnson had said that she did not choose to run, but if elected she would not turn down the position. She was written in to the at-large seat. She quickly began going to every meeting she possibly could before being sworn in.

Previously, Johnson said she had become interested in politics. She credits former President Bill Clinton for getting her interested in politics. Previously she had been an independent and said the Clinton campaign caused her to re-examine her core beliefs. The re-examination drew her to a Tom Harkin steak fry.

“It was inspiring to see people involved in governance,” she said.

That led to her campaigning for Harkin, which in turn led him to recommend her for the position.

She said once she was on council, the first role of business was selecting a candidate to fill the new role of city administrator. She said many strides forward had been made by the time she was appointed mayor.

Citing reasons of hoping to achieve “better work-life balance,” Johnson said she won’t seek her third term as mayor. She said she has several projects she hopes to complete that she has had to leave unattended due to her role as mayor. She also said she has four grandchildren she wants to spend more time with.

During her time on the council, Johnson said “considerable strides” had been made to improving the city’s infrastructure. She said one of the biggest lessons she had learned is that strategic planning is very labor-intensive and helps prioritize city projects. She said the city staff has taught her how difficult it is to deliver all the services citizens have grown to expect.

In the coming term, she hopes a few more business park lots will be sold, and the grid from Highway 1 to Iowa Avenue will be complete. She also hopes to see public safety addressed with a sidewalk improvement program. She also hopes to see the empty spaces in the downtown filled.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 22, 2017 00:40

Shortly after it became known Washington City Council mayor pro tem Sandra Johnson was going to take over as mayor of Washington, someone asked what her plans were in the position. She said she hoped to remind the people of Washington the meaning of the word “neighbors.”

Nearly 440 local families received Christmas boxes

By Vicki Carr | Dec 21, 2017

To the editor:

Once again, the spirit of giving time and energy was alive and well throughout Fairfield during The Lord’s Cupboard of Jefferson Country Christmas Box distribution project. Nearly 440 families consisting of well over 1,000 people were provided food for the holidays. The board of directors and staff of The Lord’s Cupboard would like to extend our thanks to all those in our community that so willingly supported this project in some way that makes this project possible.

The following thank you list helps everyone see just how many hands it takes and how much is involved to implement this project. Every single business, group, and individual is critical.

Thank you to Jan Fontana, Sally Johnston, and Ron Hunerdosse for their willingness to be team leaders throughout the four months of organization that this project requires.

Thank you to the First Church of the Nazarene for allowing us to use their facility to stage, package and distribute the food boxes; Connelly Inc. for the use of trash receptacles and quick service throughout the project; Creative Edge for storing 500 banana boxes; Dexter Laundry for providing a truck and manpower to move the banana boxes to the distribution site.

Thank you to Anderson Tooling for forklift support and driver; Justin Clements for forklift support; Hill Phoenix for the cardboard inserts used with the banana boxes; Agency United Methodist Men for providing hundreds of pounds of free potatoes; Larry Bentler for candy for the over 1,000 recipients.

We also thank Frontline Printing for the quick turnaround of time sensitive printing; Libertyville Savings Bank for support of the recipient mailing; Rusty Muntz, Melvin Diehl, and Dave Dickey for enclosed trailers and trucks for transporting food to the distribution site; the Knights of Columbus, Farm Bureau members, and many friends for your help in moving food from the Cupboard and staging the food in preparation of packing the boxes.

We appreciated a platoon of Hy-Vee staff who transported tons of food from the store and helped stage it for distribution across two very early mornings; Fairfield Public Works for delivery and use of barricades; Rotary for providing box carriers on distribution day; numerous former school administrators, teachers and many friends for packing perishable bags and boxes the day of the distribution; Joe Carr for managing the massive amount of cardboard that is produced throughout the preparation and distribution of the boxes.

We salute Ray Mottet for his organizational expertise needed during the staging and distribution of the boxes; members of the National Guard who were a tremendous help in carrying food boxes for recipients, moving all remaining food and materials back to the Cupboard, and returning bread pallets and milk crates back to Hy-Vee; and the multitude of volunteers that help prepare the banana boxes and food for packing, as well as all those that actually pack the boxes.

The Christmas box project would not be possible without the very generous contributions of food and money from churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the community.

Again, thank you and blessings to each and every one of you! Until next year!


- Vicki Carr, Christmas Box Project Coordinator for The Lord’s Cupboard of Jefferson County


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