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Meet the Candidates - Larry "LJ" Johnson

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NACo Second Vice President Candidate Platform

Larry “LJ” Johnson, Commmisioner, DeKalb County, Ga.

With more than 17 years of government experience, I know what it takes to find solutions, navigate complicated government agencies and get things done. 

“Making the Heart of America Stronger” is not just a slogan or words that I say, it is how I see NACo continuing to build upon the great foundation laid by the many outstanding leaders that have brought the association this far. 

We, each of us, have a commitment to our respective communities to help them achieve and remain on the cutting edge of technological developments that can enhance service delivery in our counties. 

We must strive to learn from each other and utilize best practices to further innovate economic development. 

As your second vice president I will bring my public health knowledge, depth of experience, solid leadership, dedication and commitment to help continue to move NACo forward.

— Commissioner Larry “LJ” Johnson


We are at a pivotal point in NACo history where experience and leadership matter. I have served four terms and am now into my fifth term where I was re-elected with 81 percent of the vote.

What I have heard on the campaign trail is that we need to have someone who will not only be fair but someone who will fight for all of us. My master’s degree in Public Health gives me an edge in bipartisan policy-making because of my experience in dealing with opioids, poverty and knowing how to bring rural, suburban and urban counties together that have been proactive in fighting for agriculture, PILT, SRS, transportation, health disparities, broadband connectivity and infrastructure improvements.

My platform includes world-class infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation and prevention.


World-class infrastructure

World-class infrastructure includes a comprehensive transportation network that incorporates regional transit and 21st-century technology. This also includes water supply issues which are at the forefront of many points of discussion amongst leaders around the country.  

As an organization, we must focus our efforts on a global approach which includes crafting recommendations for congressional consideration for legislation that can serve to bridge the gaps that exist and not engender polarization. 

This strategy also includes rebuilding our roads, shoring up and replacing bridges, establishing walking/biking trails, making our communities walkable through sidewalk installations and above all incorporating rail. Rail is a direct path to sustainable, environmentally friendly communities. 


Entrepreneurship and innovation

An innovative economy stresses entrepreneurship and innovation.  In order to continue to grow our economy, we must educate our workforce and entrepreneurs to meet the needs of the 21st century.  This economy must increase farming, manufacturing and technology driven jobs for our counties.  Our counties must —  economically — think globally, act regionally and plan locally.  I will use my international relationships and resources to set up business fairs at our Legislative Conference so that we can interact with foreign countries who are interested in trading with our counties. This is a way to build strategic relationships that promote not only trade but other cultural opportunities. I will strengthen the partnership with NextGen so future voices are at the table to make our counties stronger.  It is said that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and a rising tide of economic innovations lifts the boats of all.



Prevention includes the continued development of communities that are walkable, vibrant centers that support people of all ages and abilities. This is a standard we must work to not only meet but exceed. A healthy, vibrant community has at its core, components that promote healthy living, as well as the arts. We have to become more strategic with our respective budgets and not simply balance our budgets by cutting arts programs designed for our citizens. 

Additionally, counties that have large tracts of land owned by the federal government should be allowed a place at the table to take part in determining how the land will be utilized.  I will also be an advocate for counties on common sense water regulations.  The last thing counties need to do is pay a bunch of consultants to figure out regulations while economic development and green space use is held up. I will work to increase opportunities for workforce housing and decrease substance abuse.  

I will work collaboratively with the Western Interstate Region, Rural Action Caucus and Large Urban County Caucus to ensure counties are at the table to have input on these critical quality of life factors. My NACo leadership experience and master’s degree in Public Health equip me for the challenges and opportunities that we face together as NACo members.  

Finally, education is an essential piece to any strategy. I will advocate for increased educational opportunities for NACo members. 

I believe that we should, in our capacity as elected officials, work toward a leadership development program that provides accreditation to our membership, which includes a premier certification.

As a commissioner in Georgia, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) (whose slogan is “Advancing Georgia’s Counties”) has a certification program in which all commissioners must participate. 

On a national level, we can work with well-known colleges and universities to establish a program, which grants credits toward a designated certification. This would greatly help to enhance the knowledge base of NACo members. 

My experience also includes working for former President Jimmy Carter on a local project in Atlanta that focused on building communities.  Additionally, I have been appointed by nine NACo presidents and those appointments include the following committees where I have also served as chair: Health, International Economic Development, LUCC (current chair), Healthy Counties and Health Disparities.  Please vote for me to be your NACo 2nd Vice President that I may bring my vast experience and understanding of your needs to be your advocate on Capitol Hill and in your communities.  I will not let you down, just ask the past presidents of NACo.

Vote for Larry “LJ” Johnson for your NACo 2nd vice president. I am business-minded and community-focused with a human service heart.

I have linked and leveraged public and private partnerships locally, regionally, nationally and globally and have empowered people to improve their quality of life. 

I have the most regional experience: I lived in Illinois (Chicago and Urbana-Champaign), Colorado (Greeley, Weld County) and Georgia (Decatur, unincorporated DeKalb County).  Please vote “LJ” all the way for a well-rounded, seasoned public servant who has lived in suburban, urban and rural settings.  Let’s continue to make the heart of America stronger —together!

For more information call 404.941.0462, email or visit

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