SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If you want to know what Van Johnson’s campaign is about, just take a look at his campaign signs. The middle part of the word Savannah, i.e. “Van” is highlighted.
Johnson says it represents everything he feels about the Hostess City. “I’ve made myself available for not only community service but ultimately elected service and so I’m a part of the fiber of this community,” he told us.
Johnson wasn’t born in Savannah but says he chose this place years ago. That’s why he has served 16 years as the Alderman in the 1st district and why he now wants to be mayor.
“Right now you have an administration that has chosen intentionally to operate on five to six votes,” he said.
Johnson says Mayor Eddie Deloach has not worked to build consensus.
“That has been kind of his mantra that ‘I got my votes’ and he said I got my votes when we wanted to de-merge the Metro Police Department he said I got my votes when they passed the fire fee,” Johnson told us. “And so that’s just not a way that you run a government, particularly a government as large as our city. you just can’t do it. I mean it basically means that you’re ostracizing three to four of your representatives that represent people that were elected to represent people.”
Johnson opposed the fire fee and says in the end that Deloach had to back away from it because of citizen complaints. He is also concerned about the future costs of a new and separated Savannah Police Department.
He says he’d work on many issues but has some top priorities:
1) To spend time building what Johnson terms a “high functioning council” to get agreement on a common course of action
2) To hire a top-notch city manager
3) To connect in a new way to communities, especially disenfranchised neighborhoods. He suggests holding Town Halls.
Johnson feels too many people are still left out and while Mayor Deloach has indicated concerns in a variety of areas including affordable housing, Johnson told us “Deloach really has no vision for it and what we need is an affordable housing plan.”
Johnson says they need a more comprehensive look at how many people in Savannah need lower-cost housing, how much of that lower cost housing is available now and then make a commitment to put a plan into place to provide that housing.
He also says he is committed to working on solving crime and helping families.
“So for me, it’s about this community it’s about the people in this community it’s about making Savannah better it’s about moving Savannah from good to great and I am all in and committed to doing just that,” Johnson said.