Johnson was born and raised in Scioto County, while his father worked at the atomic plant. He is a 1975 graduate of Northwest High School, a 1985 graduate of Ohio University, and a 1991 graduate of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. After completing his residency in family practice at Doctor's Hospital in Columbus, he returned to Scioto County in 1993.
Johnson first was appointed to the position in July 2002, completing the unexpired term of Tom Morris. He went to the ballot the following November.
“He resigned, and my party appointed me. Then almost immediately, I had to stand for election,” he said.
Morris' term would have run through 2004, but because there was an election coming up, Johnson had to formally run for the position to complete the rest of Morris' term. Johnson defeated the independent candidate Jim McGinnis with about 60 percent of the vote. In 2004, Johnson went before the voters again, having now completed Morris' term and seeking another full-term. He ran unopposed to keep his position as county coroner.
“There's been a lot of surprises in it. I didn't realize the complexity of the job. I learned a lot in that first year. One of the most rewarding things is to be able to do a good job for law enforcement, working with the judges, working with the families of the deceased. It's very rewarding to get in there and pay attention to the details,” Johnson said.
He also said he felt during his time in office he has tried to bring compassion to the office of county coroner.
“As a family practice doctor, with sort of a people orientation, I think I bring a sort of compassion and concern for families. Trying to make sure that they're well-served,” he said.
On Thursday, Johnson said he filed his paperwork with the BOE to seek re-election in the November 2008 election. He said no opposition has been filed as of this time. He said if re-elected, he hopes to spend his next term continuing his present practices.
“And maybe try to do a little better interacting with law enforcement to enable them to do their job,” he said.
He said his job is independent of any branch of law enforcement, and is designed to act as another eye watching over the system and reporting only to the people he serves.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.