David Johnston, who has 20 years of experience as a local government manager, started his new role as the city of Covington’s new city manager Aug. 21. He previously served as the city manager for the city of Maple Valley, Wash.; village administrator for the city of Rantoul, Ill., and Coal City, Ill.; and town manager for the city of Westfield, Ind. Johnston has also served as the administrative director of the Indiana Health Centers Inc., adjunct faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University, and has run two small state agencies for the state of Indiana. Here’s what we learned about Johnston during a recent phone conversation:

What can the people of Covington expect from you?

Well, I think one of the things … is that I’m honest and trustworthy. When I chose this career, gosh, 30-plus years ago of public service, I had a mentor who said, “The biggest challenge you’re going to have, Dave, is earning and keeping the public trust.” And that proved real with every public service position I’ve held in my career. So I take that very seriously.

What are you most excited about in Covington?

What really attracted me to this place is you have all of this economic revitalization going on in the community. But at the same time I had the elected officials and community stakeholders say we embrace all this economic revitalization, but we also pay attention to the poor and disenfranchised population in our community. And that’s very unique and that’s one of the things that attracted me to the position is that they … pay attention to the entire community here.

What do you see as your biggest challenge?

Well, what I’m being told is the impact of the future closing of the huge IRS center that’s here in town. They were talking about its impact on a major revenue source—the payroll taxes—that the city is going to lose. You know you’re talking over $1 million. At the same time, I kind of view it as a wonderful opportunity. That’s going to be a 20-acre redevelopment opportunity in the community closer to the waterfront so … that could be a really exciting redevelopment effort.

What do you like to do for fun?

My wife and I like big-band jazz. So we’re going to be looking for outlets of that around the metro area. We’re also looking to pick up a hobby that we started when we were in Illinois and that’s ballroom dancing. So we’d like to find a good place that teaches that because that’s a good couple’s experience for us.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like reading historic nonfiction. I love reading maps. And I cook. I’m the cook of the house and I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.

What’s one thing that people may not know about you?

I just love minor league baseball. My wife and I have already been to one {Florence} Freedom game. So we’re going to be getting ready for next season.


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