Home About Chat Users Issues Party Candidates Polling Firms Media News Polls Calendar Key Races United States President Senate House Governors International

New User Account
"A historical political resource." 
Email: Password:

  Johnson, William
NameWilliam Johnson
Address30 Church Street Room 307-A
Rochester, New York 14614, United States
Born Unknown
Last ModifedCOSDem
Oct 25, 2003 12:56pm
William A. Johnson, Jr. was elected the 64th Mayor of the City of Rochester, New York's third largest city, in November 1993, receiving over 72% of the votes. It was his first run for any political office, and he succeeded a 20-year incumbent. In November 1997, he was re-elected without opposition in either the primary or general elections. In November 2001, he was re-elected to a third term with over 78% of the votes, in one of the several mayoral elections held after the 2000 census that featured African American and Hispanic contenders. Mayor Johnson announced during that campaign that he would not seek a fourth term.

Prior to his election, he served for 21 years as the President and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester, where he was responsible for developing and overseeing a number of innovative programs, in education and youth development, family services, employment training and housing development. Among the more innovative programs were:

* the SALUTE TO BLACK SCHOLARS, founded in 1980 to recognize the academic achievements of Black high school students. In 22 years, more than 3,800 students have been cited and tens of millions of dollars in community scholarships have been awarded.

* the BLACK SCHOLARS ENDOWMENT FUND, founded in 1987 with $1 million, has awarded financial assistance to hundreds of deserving college students.

* the URBAN LEAGUE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a nonprofit subsidiary formed in 1986 that has constructed hundreds of new, affordable homes for firsttime owners.

It is appropriate to note that these programs are still strong and vibrant, nearly ten years after Mayor Johnson's tenure with the League has ended.

* the EDUCATION INITIATIVE/CALL TO ACTION, launched in 1985 as a community-wide campaign to improve the quality of education for all Rochester school children.

* the CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE RACIAL POLARIZATION, initiated in 1991, to address racism in the greater Rochester community. More than 20,000 citizens pledged to work for the elimination of racism.

Many of these programs received national recognition for their innovation and substance. In addition, Mr. Johnson increased the League's programs from five to twenty-nine, and the annual budget from $550,000 to $4.5 million during his tenure. The Rochester league was only one of three of the 114 affiliates that got United Way allocations in excess of $1 million annually. He also trained five of his staff to become affiliate chief executives, and four more to head other not-for profit agencies.

Prior to coming to Rochester in December 1972, Johnson was the Deputy Executive Director of the Flint, Michigan Urban League (1971-72), a tenured member of the political science faculty of the Mott Community College in Flint (1967-71), and a legislative analyst at the National Highway Users Conference in Washington, DC (1966-67).

As Mayor, Johnson has continued his tradition of innovative programs, including:

* the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Program (NBN), which introduced the principles of citizen participation and empowerment into every neighborhood. As a result of training and consultation, citizens are now fully engaged with City Hall in every level of decision-making involving their neighborhoods.

* the Neighborhood Empowerment Teams, a series of neighborhood-based mini-City Halls, where police officers and civilian code enforcement officers are assigned to work directly with citizens to resolve a host of quality-of-life issues, in a timely and efficient manner.

* Community Economic Development through the creation of several community- and faith-based community development corporations, which have partnered with the city to create new residential and commercial projects throughout the city.

* Community Oriented Policing, which has worked to improve police-community relations and to motivate a number of collaborative efforts between citizens and police, to reduce crime and violence in neighborhoods.

* Good Grades Pay, which connects scholastic performance with summer job opportunities for deserving students.

* The Bi-racial Partnerships, which matches people of different races and economic status, in order to break down the racial misunderstanding in our community. In the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy, a separate partnership linking people from Islamic and non-Islamic countries was started.

Under Mayor Johnson's leadership, the city has embarked on an ambitious program to reduce housing blight and increase the number of new and renovated houses in the city. More than 1,500 new homes have replaced more than 1,000 dilapidated structures. The City has entered into partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and several not-for-profit developers, including the Urban League of Rochester, to complete this effort. Working with the Tops supermarket chain, the Mayor has brought several new stores back into the inner city, and provided millions of dollars for commercial revitalization of neighborhoods as well as the traditional downtown areas. In 1998, the city implemented -- with the help of over 3,000 citizens-- the Rochester 2010 Plan, a bold blueprint which sets forth the essential elements for the revitalization of the entire city by the year 2010. This was the first new Comprehensive Plan in 34 years. In October 2002, a new Zoning Code was enacted which codified much of the Comprehensive Plan, and changed the traditional zoning approach from land use to design.

Mayor Johnson has recognized the devastating effects of disinvestment on urban areas, combining his experiences as Mayor with his Urban League background. He has become an outspoken advocate of smart growth policies and an equally outspoken critic of urban sprawl. He has written and spoken widely on these subjects and is invited to lecture at universities and professional associations several times a year. Many of his speeches have constituted a body of work that has been assembled on the city's website, www. cityofrochester.gov. The Mayor's staff has developed a series of video presentations on the impacts of sprawl that have been shown widely during the Mayor's speeches. They have been extremely informative in getting ordinary citizens to understand how public policy around land use and zoning can materially affect their lives.

Mayor Johnson has also become an ardent proponent of regionalism, understanding that cities can no longer extricate themselves by their own initiative from the structural problems that inhibit economic viability. He has recognized the strengths of the regional economy, and how all municipalities working collaboratively within their regions can increase their economic and political competitiveness. He has established working relationships with colleagues across political and geographical boundaries. In his 2002 State of the City Address, he proposed the consolidation of governments within Monroe County, and has re-directed his priorities to work for the achievement of that goal.

He also places a high priority on the reform of his city's public schools, continuing work that was began at the Urban League. Educational Excellence is one of the eleven campaigns included in Rochester 2010, and the Mayor knows that no city can be truly revitalized without the turnaround of its educational system.

Mayor Johnson is a Trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he serves as Chairman of the Smart Growth and Regionalism Task Force; a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Conference of Mayors; an active member of the National Conference of Black Mayors; and the Vice Chair of Task Force on Community and Regional Development of the National League of Cities. He is also Chair of the Board of Partners for Livable Communities, headquartered in Washington DC. He is a trustee of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and a member of the Board of Excellus, Inc., a major health care insurer in Upstate New York.

Mayor Johnson is a political scientist by training, earning the B.A. and M.A. degrees from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965 and 1967 respectively. At Howard, he was the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, a Falk Fellow in the political science department, and listed in Who's Who Among Students.... in the 1965 edition. He will be honored by his alma mater in March 2003 with an Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement.

He has been awarded three honorary doctorates by Keuka College, St. John Fisher College and the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has also held an appointment as adjunct professor at R.I.T., where he was the Minett Professor in 1993-94.

The father of three daughters, one step-daughter and four grandchildren, he is the husband of Sylvia A. Johnson, Esq., an assistant U. S. Attorney. A trained pianist and organist, he has been a church musician for more than 50 years, including 13 years as the organist and senior choir director at the New Bethel CME Church in Rochester. A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, he is the oldest child of the late William A. Johnson, Sr. ( a mortician for 50 years prior to his death in 1998) and Roberta Davis Johnson, a very vigorous 81 year old. A 1960 graduate of Dunbar High School, he graduated # 3 in his class and was President of the student body, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and inducted in the National Honor Society.

Mayor Johnson is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Gamma Iota Boule, where he has held several offices including Sire Archon; and of Eureka Lodge #36, Prince Hall Masons.


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 0.00000 Average


  03/29/2011 Rochester NY Mayor - Special Election Lost 42.21% (-6.84%)
  11/04/2003 Monroe County Executive Lost 35.66% (-28.69%)
  11/06/2001 Rochester, NY Mayor Won 77.40% (+54.80%)
  11/04/1997 Rochester, NY Mayor Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  11/04/1993 Rochester, NY Mayor Won 71.46% (+49.28%)
  09/00/1993 Rochester, NY Mayor- D Primary Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
NY Attorney General - D Primary - Sep 12, 2006 D Mark Green
Rochester, NY Mayor - D Primary - Sep 13, 2005 D Robert J. Duffy
NY US President - D Primary - Mar 02, 2004 D Howard Dean