New Port Orange city manager looks to lessen turmoil
Published: Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 8:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 8:49 p.m.
PORT ORANGE — Encased in glass behind the desk of new City Manager Jake Johansson is a football bearing the seal of the Vice President of the United States. It’s signed by Dick Cheney.
Before Johansson came to Port Orange, he spent 35 years in the U.S. Navy and for 2½ of those years, he carried the nuclear launch codes in a briefcase nicknamed the nuclear “Football.” Working in a rotation with four other servicemen, when he had the “Football,” he had to remain within 3½ minutes of the vice president at all times.
“It was a very rewarding tour when I was a very junior officer,” the 52-year-old said of the post.
Now his briefcase carries the strategic plan for Port Orange city government, which in recent years has seen an exodus of six department heads, agitation over budget issues and $1.2 million in revenue lost to water billing errors.
“I watched the turmoil. I watched the distrust in government,” says Johansson, who looked at hours of video of city meetings before he interviewed for the top job this summer. “I represent a government that was at one point not trusted. I get that. I get that I have to develop trust, but I have to do it my way.”
Since starting work Aug. 17, he’s been replacing city officials who have left or will soon leave, including a police chief and an assistant city manager.
He wants to move the city forward by researching and analyzing city issues, and adding more technology to improve city departments.
He also made waves last month when he stopped posting the city manager’s emails on the city website, a practice that began in 2010. Some city council members feared it would mean less transparency, but Johansson said city staffers were spending too much time managing the mail.
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