DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson was elected president of the National Association of Counties, which serves about 40,000 elected officials and 3.6 million county employees across the U.S.
“It hasn’t really sunk in, but to be a boy that grew up poor from the southside of Chicago to be in this position, only God can help me to realize this dream,” he told Decaturish and the Tucker Observer.
NACo advocates for county priorities in federal policymaking, promotes successful county policies and educates the public on the workings of county governments. Johnson rose steadily through the group’s leadership in recent years, serving as second vice president in 2019, first vice president in 2020 and now president, which he will take over in July.
Johnson said his ascension to the role helps put DeKalb in the national spotlight.
“I’m bringing a national conference here in December, so that’s an influx of funding,” he said. “I’ll also be doing other small meetings here to bring federal elected officials, from [the U.S. Department of] Housing [and Urban Development] to [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] to really hear DeKalb’s story and really be a voice for counties across the nation.”
Johnson also met recently with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“I want to make sure we get rail and bus rapid transit,” he said. “We’re looking at I-20 as key. We’re looking at Dunwoody all the way to Hartsfield starting a bus rapid transit system. I want to get those discussions started.”
“I just want to make sure there’s a voice of DeKalb is at the table. He is listening, so that’s good. They remember that DeKalb County is what helped them get the majorities,” he added.
Johnson has been lobbying the White House Council of Economic Advisers for more pandemic relief for DeKalb and other counties. The funding is needed to address food insecurity, provide small business relief, boost employment and help with infrastructure improvements.
Johnson has also spoken with Eduardo Cisneros, the White House COVID-19 Intergovernmental Affairs Director, about getting more vaccines at the county level.
“NACo is that voice to make sure counties have a seat at the table,” he said.
Johnson was also recently elected to the board of managers of Association County Commissioners of Georgia. The board “represents the collective strength of Georgia’s local communities,” according to ACCG Executive Director Dave Wills.
“Now, more than ever, we have witnessed the significance of leadership at the local level,” he said in a press release. “I congratulate and look forward to working with our newly installed board of managers as we continue our efforts to serve all 159 counties throughout the state.”
Johnson has represented District 3 on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners since 2003.
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