On Dec. 4, the City Council voted to name the financial services wing in honor of the 55-year-old who spent 27 years working for the city.
According to City Manager Leon Churchill, an employee proposed naming part of the first floor of City Hall’s north wing for Johnston. Churchill said the suggestion showed the respect people have for the outgoing finance director.
Churchill said Johnston’s leadership is part of why the city has maintained a reserve despite six consecutive years of spending more money than it takes in.
“He’s really the reason why all of the financial successes have been here,” Churchill said. “He really is a historic figure here. He really cares so much about the community.”
Johnston said he was humbled by the “heartwarming” gesture.
“Over the years I’ve been involved in the financing side in a lot of different projects and infrastructure throughout the city, but the one project that got a lot of my stamp on it was City Hall,” he said.
The design of the building was influenced by Johnston, who said rooms 109 and 203 bear his fingerprints — conference rooms designed to function like a groom’s and bride’s dressing chambers.
“We wanted City Hall to be more than a building where city workers worked,” he said. “We wanted it to be something the community has access to and uses.”
He also recalled refinancing bonds to pay for the construction at the Legacy Fields sports complex north of town as one of his proudest achievements.
Even as he battled through Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous system disorder that results in paralysis, Johnston made sure to attend the 2005 council meeting when the sports complex money was approved.
“I couldn’t sit at the staff table because I couldn’t get up,” he said. “I hobbled up there with a cane, but I had worked a lot on that and that project was so big, it meant the difference between being able to do something like we’re doing now and not being able to do it.”
An early-retirement program to save the city money in the long term prompted him to leave.
His duties will be folded into the position of administrative service director, filled by Jenny Haruyama. The two have worked together since she was hired in August.
Churchill said the goal for Haruyama and the rest of the city after Johnston’s departure is to achieve successes of the kind he had during his tenure.
“The best way to honor him,” Churchill said, “is to keep doing a good job in our financial management.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.