By Sherri L. Jackson
Roosevelt Johnson is not on the mayor’s side. Roosevelt Johnson is not on the Alexandria City Council’s side.
Johnson, who will preside over his first Council meeting today as president, said he is on God’s side, which means his ultimate goal is to do what he can to help people.
“As president and councilman-at-large, I want a working relationship with churches, civic groups and the Council so that we can change the quality of life in Alexandria,” Johnson said in a one-on-one interview Monday night with The Light.
Despite negative talk surrounding his election to to lead the Council through the 2010 year, Johnson said his focus is to see the “Council and Administration put all differences aside because we are elected to serve. If we are not together, the people hurt.”
His first move toward that end is to bring Mayor Jacques Roy and his staff back into their Council Chambers’ seats during the Council meetings. They will be in place at today’s Alexandria City Council Agenda, 12-15-09, which begins at 5 p.m.
Under Councilman-at-large Myron Lawson’s presidency, the mayor and his administration didn’t attend Council meetings preferring to watch from upstairs after Lawson moved their seats to the audience rather than the table next to the Council.
“Bringing the mayor and administration downstairs is for all of us to work together. It’s beyond politics. We have a job to do whether we like each other or not,” Johnson said.
In Roy’s recent State of the City address, he said he looks forward to working with Roosevelt.
Johnson, 50, said his life’s guiding principles are workmanship, responsibility, accountability and commitment.
Those guiding principles, Johnson said, are the result of a knee injury he suffered while in the ninth grade in 1968. While out of school several months, he had time to reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and how he wanted to move forward in life since his dreams of playing professional football had been shattered.
“Since the ninth grade, I’ve had dreams to finish Southern University, to work in television and to be a councilman,” Johnson said. “I graduated from Southern University. I worked in television for 26 years. Now, I’m working to bring the city together as a city councilman in Alexandria.
In the coming year, Johnson said, he wants to make sure all city projects, especially Special Planned Activity Redevelopment Corridors, commonly called SPARC, and drainage issues.
In Johnson’s first move as Council president, he made committee assignments, which caused a small rumble in the community. In particular, District 1 Councilman Edward Larvadain III is no longer chair or a member of the Legal Committee.
In recent past Legal Committees, Larvadain and District 3 Councilman Jonathan Goins, probed whether or not Mayor Jacques Roy had a conflict of interest relating to the Cleco case. At times, the meetings resembled a courtroom filled with interrogations.
However, Johnson said moving Larvadain off of the Legal Committee had less to do with Larvadain’s wanting an investigation of Roy and more to do with wanting Larvadain to grow and develop as a councilman.
“Each councilman needs an opportunity to grow in all areas. My goal is for all to do the best for the city regardless of whether they serve as a chairman or not,” Johnson said.
“I would like to see Jonathan and Ed be the best they can be to develop and grow,” Johnson said. “When you’re newly elected, you have your future in front of you. You need to be versatile. I’ve been on the Council seven years and I’ve not sat on the Finance Committee. Allowing people to move around and serve on different committees leads all of us to the future.”
Regarding Larvadain’s and his fact-finding probe relating to the mayor and Cleco, Johnson said, “As president of the Council, I feel it’s time to move forward. As I’ve viewed what is taking place, we’ve been there before.”
However, Johnson said, if there are any ethics violations against any officials, they will eventually surface.
Meanwhile, Johnson, who has been on the City Council seven years, said he is not sure what his next political move will be regarding the 2010 mayor’s race.
“As we all of my other campaigns, I must sit down with my family and supporters before I go public. I will do so after the holidays,” he said.
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