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Larry Johnson, Georgia commissioner, takes the lead as NACo president

NACo’s new executive team, elected July 12 at the 2021 Annual Business Meeting in Prince George’s County, Md. are (l-r): Immediate Past President Gary Moore, Boone County, Ky. judge/executive; President Larry Johnson, commissioner, DeKalb County, Ga.; First Vice President Denise Winfrey, board member, Will County, Ill. and Second Vice President Mary Jo McGuire, commissioner, Ramsey County, Minn.

Photo by Denny Henry

By Mary Ann Barton
NACo CountyNews

DeKalb County, Ga. Commissioner Larry Johnson was sworn in as NACo’s new president Monday afternoon at NACo’s 2021 Annual Business Meeting in Prince George’s County, Md. Johnson began his journey to the top spot when he was elected second vice president of NACo in 2019 at the Annual Conference in Clark County, Nev.

“When I was growing up, I couldn’t imagine being here today,” Johnson said in his acceptance speech. “I’m the product of two teenage parents and sometimes it seemed like the world was against me. But I never would give up. I wish my mom could be here to see me now.”

Delegates at the association’s 86th Annual Conference elected Johnson to lead the executive team along with Boone County, Ky. Judge Executive Gary Moore, immediate past president; Will County, Ill. board member Denise Winfrey, who becomes NACo’s first vice president and Ramsey County, Minn. Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire, who was elected second vice president in a three-way election.

Johnson laid out his vision for his year ahead in a speech to county officials. “I am pleased to announce that I will focus on the theme ‘Counties thrive,” Johnson said. “We’ll focus on six areas,” he said, noting that the THRIVE acronym stands for: Technology, Health, Readiness, Infrastructure, Vulnerable Populations and Economic Opportunity.

“I hope you all will join me because this is not a one-man show,” Johnson said. “NACo, we’re going to go on this ride together.”

The 2021 Annual Conference was the first large gathering of NACo members since early 2020, when county officials gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Legislative Conference, just ahead of the big shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

See more coverage of the Annual Conference online here.

NACo committee chairs

Johnson took the opportunity to introduce the chairs of NACo’s committees, task forces and boards who will help guide policy decisions through the next year. They are:

  • Agriculture and Rural Affairs: Supervisor Craig Pedersen, Kings County, Calif.
  • Arts and Culture: Commissioner Renée Price, Orange County, N.C.
  • Community, Economic and Workforce Development: Judge Joseph Wood, Washington County, Ark.
  • Defined Contribution and Retirement Advisory Committee: Grant Veeder, auditor, Black Hawk County, Iowa
  • Environment, Energy and Land Use: Commissioner Douglas Smith, Martin County, Fla.
  • Finance Standing Committee: Board Member Denise Winfrey, Will County, Ill.
  • Finance, Pension and Intergovernmental Affairs: Supervisor Nathan Magsig, Fresno County, Calif.
  • Geospatial Information Systems: Surveyor Reid Demman, Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Health Steering Committee: Council Chair Derek Young, Pierce County, Wash.
  • Healthy Counties Advisory Board: Chair at Large, Phyllis Randall, Loudoun County, Va.
  • Human Services and Education: Council Member, Craig Rice, Montgomery County, Md.
  • Immigration Reform Task Force: Supervisor Manuel Ruiz, Santa Cruz County, Ariz.
  • Information Technology Standing Committee: Supervisor Patricia O’Bannon, Henrico County, Va.
  • International Economic Development Task Force: Councilmember Stephanie Wright, Snohomish County, Wash.
  • Information Technology Advisory Board: Commissioner Christopher Constance, Charlotte County, Fla.
  • Justice and Public Safety: Mayor Jerry Demings, Orange County, Fla.
  • Large Urban County Caucus: Commissioner John O’Grady, Franklin County, Ohio
  • Membership Chair: Circuit Clerk Matthew Prochaska, Kendall County, Ill.
  • Programs and Services: Supervisor James Gore, Sonoma County, Calif.
  • Public Lands: Commissioner Joel Bousman, Sublette County, Wyo.
  • Resilient Counties Advisory Board: Supervisor Deborah Lucero, Butte County, Calif.
  • Rural Action Caucus: Commissioner Greg Puckett, Mercer County, W.Va.
  • Telecommunications and Technology: Commissioner Tarryl Clark, Stearns County, Minn.
  • Transportation: Commissioner Liz Hausmann, Fulton County, Ga.
  • Veterans and Military Services: Chairman Tom Snider, Winnebago County, Wis.
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