Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson new chair of metro mayors association

By Maria Saporta

On of metro Atlanta’s most popular leaders — Bucky Johnson — is taking on a new role.

Johnson, who is mayor of the City of Norcross, is now the new chairman of the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association (MAMA).

He is succeeding Mike Bodker, the mayor of Johns Creek, in that role. At the annual conference of the Georgia Municipal Association in June in Savannah, Bodker became the third vice president of GMA.

Johnson has seen his stock in the region rise following his leadership of the Regional Transportation Roundtable — a group of 21 elected leaders from metro Atlanta who unanimously adopted a list of 157 transportation projects valued at $6.14 billion over the next 10 years to be funded by the proposed one-percent transportation sales tax that will be on the ballot on July 31.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson

MAMA was created after regional leaders went on their LINK trip in 1992 to Chicago. Then-Mayor Richard Daley told newly-elected Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin how important it was to build a close relationship with other mayors in the region.

Today, MAMA is a cooperative alliance of the mayors of the 68 cities in the 10-county Atlanta region. Incidentally, the influence of the region’s mayors has grown since MAMA was created — as the relative influence of county commission chairs has lessened.

Johnson was elected mayor of Norcross in 2008 and re-elected in 2010 and 2012. Before becoming mayor, Johnson was president of Norcross Neighbors for three years.

Professionally, Johnson served as director of bands and as head of the music department at Georgia Tech until he retired in 2002. He also was the founder and director of the 300-member Atlanta Olympic Band from 1992 to 1996.

In fact, during his leadership of the potentially divisive Roundtable, Johnson’s experience as a band leader was viewed as a real asset in helping keep the 21 elected leaders working together.

In an interview by GMA, which helps staff MAMA, Johnson said he wanted to maintain existing events of the association, such as the annual Georgia Rides to the Capitol and the Magical Journey Circus experience for children with special needs.

Johnson, an Atlanta native, also said he would try to build a stronger regional outlook for the organization.

“A personal goal is to work on regional cooperation between cities and to look for ways to connect with county commissioners and state elected officials on mutually beneficial projects and programs,” Johnson told GMA.

In addition to his service to Norcross and as a board member of the Atlanta Regional Commission, Johnson also is chair of the Gwinnett Tech Foundation and on the executive board of GMA and the Gwinnett Municipal Association. Johnson also was in the 2009 Leadership Gwinnett class and the 2009 Regional Leadership Institute.

On Tuesday morning, Johnson also served as a host of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Create Community Awards program — which recognizes local governments for implementing innovative programs.

Johnson told the group that something he has always tried to do is “getting people to work together.”

In addition to fostering a closer relationship among the cities in metro Atlanta, MAMA supports public policy decisions beneficial to the cities. It also helps coordinate activities among the cities that benefit the entire region and communicates identified needs to federal, state and regional agencies as well as to the citizens of the region.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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