County Clerk of Johnson County Tammie Fenner swears in Mike Taylor as Johnson County Mayor in 2018 File Photo
By Tate Davis
In a December 20 interview, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor announced he will not seek re-election next year. “It’s my time. I’ve had a good run.” Taylor intends to retire after his term ends in August 2022 and “Change gears, into family and Grandpa mode.”
His wife, Tamra, will also be retiring. The couple hopes to focus on travel, two daughters, and “three wonderful grandchildren.”
Of course, Taylor said he will keep working for the next six months. “I’m going to work as hard on the last day as the first day,” he said. “You better not call me a ‘Lame Duck.’”
Taylor’s retirement will cap off more than sixteen years in public office. He served on the Board of Education from 1998 through 2002. He later served two terms as a County Commissioner, including four years as Chair.
“We must have people interested in the community and the governing of it,’ he said. “If we don’t have that, we’ll be in sad shape.”
As a student in 1976, Taylor wrote Bill Hill asking the then-county executive about the job. He keeps and cherishes the letter Mr. Hill wrote back in response.
The Tomahawk’s 2018 article spoke of “shock waves” from Taylor’s win in a hotly contested mayoral race. Ever the teacher, he likens his first day as Mayor to standing in front of a classroom full of students at the start of the school year.
“They’re looking at you, and you’re thinking, ‘I’m here. What am I going to do now? Can we get this done?’ It’s an enlightening moment. No one can tell you what it’s like. In this job, you don’t hit the ball every time you swing. But you keep swinging the bat.”
Taylor said his biggest surprise upon assuming office was “the time commitment. You have to multitask and work on lots of different things. Working in the
industry, you can resolve issues quickly.” In government, he says, “Everything is slower.”
According to Taylor, limited resources pose constant challenges. “You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt,” he said. “The general public has no idea how much it costs. We try to keep taxes low. But you have to balance [taxes] with growth.”
With the balanced budget mandated by law, Taylor added, “There are really only two ways to make it equal: cut services or increase taxes. In Johnson County, we have to do a lot with a little.”
Toward that end, Taylor has focused on improving facility maintenance. “I’ve had a good county commission. They’ve been very supportive, working together to benefit this community. I hope to leave this office better than I found it.”