While we weren’t in the interview, we imagine that the “special skills” section of Derek Johnson’s resume – with highlights including Halloween enthusiast, Benjamin Franklin quote-dropper and Robert Redford doppelganger – may have been one of the things that helped him stand out as the City Council’s unanimous choice for City Manager when the position opened up last year.
That or his 20+ years in city planning and community development. Either way, Johnson now sits in the big chair, overseeing the city’s $142 million budget, 400 employees and numerous essential services.
“I got you, babe,” Johnson might sing of the Central Coast, where he’s spent 20 years working in the public sector, chasing waves and hopping rocks on rad bike trails.
Check out what’s really got a hold on him while we go look for more Sonny and Cher lyrics.
Recently tried for the first time? Ripsticking. It is kind of like a skateboard but with two wheels. I almost broke my arm.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Robert Redford.
Treat you remember fondly from childhood: My grandmother would make blackberry pie that we picked on the farm. Homemade crust with vanilla ice cream.
Your best Halloween costume: My family really enjoys Halloween. We go full out and my favorite costume is when my wife and I dressed up as Sonny and Cher. I was Cher and pray that there are no pictures….
Word someone would never use to describe you: Lazy
Early riser or night owl? Early riser. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Something you do every day? Reading is habit. Whether it is catching up on the newspaper, professional journals, international publications, etc.; always eager to find new ideas to inspire our city.
How do you relax? Yoga is my current way to relax. It is a way to calm and focus my mind and really make the mind-body connection. It is both mentally and physically challenging and can take a lifetime to learn and another lifetime to master. I also enjoy bike riding and surfing. We have amazing road and mountain bike trails and some great beaches and surf. All things that people love to do on the Central Coast.
What would most surprise people about your day-to-day duties? The complexity of issues and the pace of decision making. There are dozens of key decisions that need to be made on a daily basis where sometimes you have to go with your gut and getting it not quite right may have long term implications for the community.
What tops your bucket list? Professionally, it would be helping SLO maintain its small-town charm, and at the same time meet the needs of the community through economic development, housing and providing infrastructure such as parks, transportation improvements, public safety facilities and open space that keep SLO as a great place to live, work and play.
The top of my personal bucket list is doing a family vacation in Indonesia. It would be a surf/food trip, where we could take in the culture, beaches and cuisine and see another part of the world that is completely different.