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Davenport Institute Welcomes Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson as Inaugural Mayor in Residence

Mayor Eric Johnson

On October 16th, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) hosted its inaugural Mayor in Residence program with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. This program is a part of the Local Government in Residence initiative which is designed to bring local government leaders to campus to meet one-on-one with students and give a talk on their career journey. Since 2011, the City Manager in Residence program has connected graduate students to local government leaders from Grover Beach, California to Thousand Oaks, California. 

Mayor Johnson has been a public servant for thirteen years, including nine years serving as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Prior to serving in the Texas State Legislature, Johnson worked as a corporate attorney for several Dallas-based international law firms. 

In one-on-one conversations with students, Johnson provided guidance on navigating a career in local government and suggestions on how to get started. These conversations are a distinctive element of the Local Government in Residence program at SPP as they give public policy students the opportunity to have a casual chat with a current leader in local government. 

Mayor Johnson also gave a special Davenport Discussion talk during lunchtime, addressing the room with a sense of restored faith in the future of the country. During the discussion, Johnson touched on how he initially ran for office because he was passionate about education policy and felt a calling to serve his fellow Texans. In his tenure as mayor, Johnson has dealt with the existential crises of a tornado, the Covid-19 pandemic, a recession, and the defund the police movement. Despite these obstacles, Johnson has been successful in addressing public safety, economic development, and tax reform. 

At the conclusion of the discussion, there was a lively question and answer session. Students asked questions pertaining to the influx of Californians migrating to Dallas and how this will affect the political climate in the city, and what kind of standards are employed when looking at effective policy. Johnson stressed that when enacting policy it is imperative to have accountability, not just good intentions. Leaders wishing to see effective policy outcomes require tangible measures of success, such as benchmarks, for people to follow. The discussion closed with a heartfelt goodbye where the mayor encouraged students to find what they are passionate about and get involved.