Unexpectedly, Job Has Become Something Loved

PAYSON PEOPLE

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She hesitates to say it, but when Jo Johnson first started working as Gila County Supervisor Ron Christensen's administrative assistant, she said she thought the job would be boring.

Johnson had worked for Christensen's wife, Clarice, when the couple owned and operated Tonto Books and T-Shirts.

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Jo Johnson

"When Ron hired me for this job, Clarice said, ‘OK, that's it. I'm going to close the store,'" Johnson said, laughing at the memory. "I've worked with the family for about 16 years."

She said she had no real experience with government work, except as the wife of the chief of a volunteer fire department in Utah.

"The most surprising thing about this job is I thought it would be boring," Johnson said. "It's never been boring. There are not enough hours in the day. I didn't think it would be as busy as it is. We answer all kinds of questions and not all involve the county."

With no government work experience, Johnson had a lot to learn.

"The biggest skill I had to learn was not taking what the public said personally," Johnson explained. "I've learned not to do that. They're upset with the situation. Plus I've gained a lot of knowledge about how the county works."

She said the job's greatest reward is being able to help people.

"Being able to answer their questions ... Often they'll call and say they're getting the runaround and I can get the answer or get them to the right person to answer their question."

The work's challenge is making sure the public is informed, she said.

"We have to inform the public about what the real facts are in a situation and to help people understand why something has taken place," Johnson said. "For instance when we consolidated the justice courts of Pine and Payson -- to save money. Another time was with the creation of the Municipal Property Corporation to buy the buildings (in Payson). People wanted the service, but they didn't want the MPC."

More recently, Johnson has spent a lot of time on the phone hearing people criticize the decision of the county to take over the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District.

"The decision was dictated by the Arizona Revised Statutes," Johnson said. "It was not made from an emotional point of view, it was made on the actual facts. The supervisors try to have all the information to make the best, informed decision."

Johnson said she really likes just about everything about her job, but she does have one thing that irritates her.

"The one thing I don't like is after I've listened to someone, been courteous and helpful, they don't listen to me."

Johnson has worked for Christensen since February 1991.

Profile

Name: Jo Johnson

Occupation: District Services Coordinator/Personnel Liaison

Employer: Gila County

Age: 50

Birthplace: Casa Grande, Ariz.

Family: Husband, Steve; sons Clay and Matt

Personal motto: Live Life -- Laugh Often -- Love Much

Inspiration: My two boys

Greatest feat: Survived breast cancer

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Cruising in a hot rod or on the back of a motorcycle.

Three words that describe me best are ... Positive, friendly, good listener.

I don't want to brag, but ... I've lived with my husband for 30 years and I'm still sane.

The person in history I'd most like to meet is: The person who invented chocolate.

Luxury defined: A comfy chair in front of a fire with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate and no dirty dishes.

Dream vacation: Visit our foreign exchange student in Sweden.

Why Payson? Because it's home.

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