William A. Johnson Jr. was elected 64th mayor of the City of Rochester in November 1993. He was re-elected without opposition in November 1997 and won a third term in November 2001.
Under Johnson's leadership, the City of Rochester has initiated a variety of innovative programs, including the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Program (considered a national model of citizen involvement in community planning), Neighborhood Empowerment Teams, Community Oriented Policing, and programs to reduce housing blight and increase the number of new and renovated homes.
In 1999, the city began implementing the Rochester 2010 Plan, which sets forth the elements for the revitalization of the entire city. Other projects, like the fast ferry and the Rochester MusicFest, have become a reality under Johnson's leadership.
Johnson is an outspoken critic of urban sprawl and an advocate of smart growth policies. He has written and spoken widely on these subjects. He is also an ardent proponent of regionalism.
In 1999, Governing Magazine named Johnson one of the Top 10 Public Officials in America. He is a trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Conference of Mayors, National Conference of Black Mayors, and is vice chair of the Task Force on Community and Regional Development of the National League of Cities. He is also chair of the Board of Partners for Livable Communities, a trustee of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and a member of the Board of Excellus, Inc., a health care insurer in Upstate New York.
Before serving as mayor, Johnson served for 21 years as president and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester, where he was responsible for developing and overseeing a number of programs in education and youth development, family services, employment training, and housing development.
Johnson increased the league's programs from five to 29, and the annual budget from $550,000 to $4.5 million, during his tenure.
Prior to coming to Rochester in December 1972, Johnson was deputy executive director of the Flint, Michigan, Urban League. He was also a tenured member of the political science faculty of the Mott Community College in Flint, and a legislative analyst at the National Highway Users Conference in Washington, DC.
Johnson earned his bachelor's and master's in political science from Howard University in Washington, DC. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by Keuka College, St. John Fisher College, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Johnson is married and has three daughters, a stepdaughter, and four grandchildren.