Muskegon mayor-elect eager for challenges ahead

Elections

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — In a few weeks, the city of Muskegon will be getting a new mayor.

Voters narrowly elected Ken Johnson Tuesday, ousting current Mayor Stephen Gawron.

Gawron was elected to the city commission in 2001. He later served as the vice mayor in 2005. He held that position until the mayor at the time resigned in 2013 and he was appointed to serve the remainder of the mayors term. In the 2013 election, Gawron was elected by the voters of Muskegon to serve as mayor and has been serving ever since.

This year’s election will end 20 years of service. 

“I’d been serving on the city commission for eight years and public service is a really rewarding experience and I love Muskegon. I love the people here in Muskegon and so I wanted to serve Muskegon in another capacity,” said Mayor-elect Ken Johnson. “Felt like it was time for some fresh leadership.”

Muskegon Mayor-elect Ken Johnson. (courtesy City of Muskegon)

Johnson was born and raised in Muskegon and graduated from Muskegon Public Schools. He says after high school, he moved to Washington, D.C., to attend George Washington University.

Johnson moved back to Muskegon 12 years ago.  

“I’m thrilled that not only am I taking the position of mayor but we have two new commissioners as well — and that’s Rebecca St. Clair and Rachel Gorman — and so eight years ago, when I was on the commission, there were zero women. So I’m thrilled that two are joining us and now we’ve have three women on the commission,” said Johnson. “I’m excited as mayor I’ll be presiding over the most diverse commission in Muskegon’s history.”

Johnson says one of his top priorities when he takes office is improving the city’s parks system.  

“Some of the key things that I want to be working on is investing in our parks and doing so equitably across our community and ensuring when we move forward with economic development that it’s done more inclusively and bringing more people along,” said Johnson.

While crime in the city has been trending lower, Johnson says he’s committed to tackling gun violence too. 

“We need to be working with our community partners to address that, working with our educators to address that and wrap our arms around the problem but more importantly our youth,” Johnson said. “What we see in this community and others is there’s trauma on trauma on trauma and hurt people hurt people.”

Johnson says he’s eager for the challenges ahead.

“There’s a lot of talk about progress in this election and we have made good progress and I’m proud of that progress. But progress is more than buildings and beautification. True progress is about the betterment of lives and lived experiences from the marginalized to the middle class and beyond,” said Johnson.

Johnson will officially be sworn in as mayor on Jan. 3rd. 

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