Mineral Wells native, business owner and three-year councilmember Regan Johnson was named the new mayor after running unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.
Born in Mineral Wells, Johnson moved to Granbury in fourth grade and spent the remainder of her primary and secondary education years there, graduating from Granbury High School before attending Tarleton State University in Stephenville. She graduated in 2006 and soon after purchased a building in downtown Mineral Wells where she started her business, Brazos Market and Bistro.
“I guess I thought I should renovate the building and if I do that, everybody else will do the same thing,” Johnson said. “The restaurant has been open for 10 years — we added the patio about four years ago — and there’s a guest house around the corner that my business partner and I co-own and it’s obviously changing exponentially fast right now. It’s incredible, just kind of that slow slow snowball and now the momentum is unbelievable.”
Johnson was elected to At-Large Place 2 on the Mineral Wells city council in 2017.
“The first couple of years you really are drinking from a firehose just like with any job, the learning curve, and municipal government is no different in getting your feet wet and a true understanding of everything that’s going on,” she said. “It does take a couple of years to learn and react and then you find yourself being in a more proactive position.”
When it came time to fill the position of mayor for the city, Johnson said she felt she was ready.
“We were kind of in the middle of a lot of stuff going on and here I am in the middle of downtown anyway with my business and I talk to people in the community all the time, so it just fit,” she said.
Mineral Wells City Manager Randy Criswell said Johnson will do a wonderful job as mayor.
“The role of mayor is complex. It’s everything from ‘kissing babies and shaking hands’ (pre-COVID, obviously — ha) to serving as an ambassador for the community,” he said. “The expectations of the community for the mayor are typically more than those of a regular council person, and I think she’ll meet those expectations. Regan is intelligent, strong, energetic, analytical and loves Mineral Wells. She’ll be a strong leader, an open mind, and will continue to push Mineral Wells into a progressive future.”
Johnson said the city has started addressing several issues and recently hired a director to expand economic development.
“We have a strong commitment to infrastructure and streets here. That’s no secret, no surprise to anyone in Mineral Wells, and we’re very committed to how to remedy those issues as quickly as possible,” she said. “Parks and quality of life type things, those are things that go hand-in-hand with economic development as businesses are recruiting people to live here. There are a couple of other things that are happening naturally right now with the growth that we will continue to support any way we can and one of those is housing. We’ve had a shortage of housing for quite some time, but as the market has also noticed that issue, I’ll be interested to see how many new homes are built in the next 12 months.”
Johnson said the city council as a whole is very strong and while they might not always agree on some things, they are very unified and have a lot of healthy discussions. She added that the partnerships between the city, the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce and the Envision Mineral Wells initiative have been amazing and there are a lot of moving parts.
“From a very young age I always loved Mineral Wells. I watched some of the friendships that my parents created here back in the late 70s and the people and their hospitality is really incredible, so I think that was part of the reason my parents moved back here after I graduated high school,” Johnson said. “You can’t replace the people and that’s one of the things I love the most. On top of that, it’s easy to look around and see the history, the outdoor recreation and the really amazing central location in that we have access to so many things but we’re still a very small town.”
Criswell agreed about the current Mineral Wells city council.
“The city council in Mineral Wells right now is the best council I’ve ever worked with and Regan is certainly a notable part of that,” he said. “We’ve dealt with some difficult issues since I’ve been here, even within our own council, but Regan has been a strong leader. She’s been open-minded, studious, observant and unafraid to make a tough decision and stand by it. I think she’s been a fantastic council member.”
Criswell added that the relationship between the mayor and city manager is crucial.
“We’ve all experienced or witnessed the destruction caused by a dysfunctional relationship between these two positions. I have been honored to work with Mayor [Tammy] Underwood over the past few months as we dealt with COVID-19 and other complexities and difficulties,” he said. “Through all of that, our relationship of mutual respect and cooperation has been invaluable. I know Mayor Johnson and I will have the same quality of partnership. I know we’ll be able to work together in a way that’s of great benefit to our community, our employees and our council.”
In her spare time, Johnson said she enjoys golfing, fishing, hunting and anything outdoors with her two children, Colby, 10, and Campbell, 12.
“We do a lot of outdoor recreation here in the county, go to the lake and just pretty much anything outdoors,” she said.
Johnson was set to be officially sworn into office on Tuesday at the regular city council meeting.
“We have big goals for Mineral Wells and I look forward to continuing our work with Mayor Johnson,” Criswell said. “I know she’ll bring ideas and concepts to the worktable that will be good for our community and I’ll be proud to work with her to meet the challenges.”