Meet Libertyville’s New Mayor, Donna Johnson


Ariella Bucio

Former Mayor Terry Weppler swears in Libertyville’s new mayor, Donna Johnson, at the Civic Center on Tuesday, May 4.

On Tuesday, May 4, Donna Johnson was officially sworn in as the new mayor of Libertyville. Johnson took over the role after former Mayor Terry Weppler held the position for 12 years. She ran unopposed in April on the campaign slogan “Leadership you know,” a reflection of her 14 years as a Libertyville trustee.

Johnson said she has been an active member of the Libertyville community since she first moved from Evanston 40 years ago. She is a member of the North Shore chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. and chair of the governing board at Advocate Condell Medical Center — one of the largest employers in Libertyville. Furthermore, Johnson is involved in the Proclaimer Ministry at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Libertyville. She describes her faith as being an “integral part of her life.” 

“When I struggle with an issue, personally or professionally, I always look to scripture to find my answers,” said Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson believes that her nearly decade-and-a-half tenure as a Libertyville trustee will serve her well in the role of mayor. She said that preparation and review are two critical skills that have helped her conduct her role as a trustee through her due diligence. She also attributes her success in preparation and review to her legal career as a prosecutor in Lake County and experience as a corporate attorney for the Allstate Insurance company in Northbrook. 

Johnson said she is a strong believer in listening to both sides of a position and prides herself in her listening skills.

“If you’re listening, and people are standing up trying to give you different perspectives, you can learn a lot and it can factor into your analysis,” said Mayor Johnson.

She believes her relationships with the business, school and political communities will also likely benefit her throughout her tenure.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Johnson wants to find ways to support businesses and the local community. She plans to do so by promoting local businesses and dining options through the village website. Johnson commended the Economic Development Team for utilizing digital marketing to promote Libertyville businesses. 

The pandemic also resulted in numerous businesses being forced to close down, including the shoe repair store and tuxedo shop near the downtown area. In response to these closings, Mayor Johnson plans to fill these vacancies with small retail businesses.

“We don’t object to having any restaurants [fill those vacancies], but we still want to have a balance between the restaurants and the retail businesses,” added Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson also supports reaching herd immunity through the Covid-19 vaccine, which she says the science has proven to be safe and effective. She wants to partner with the Lake County Department of Public Health to continue to provide useful information about public health on the village website.

Throughout her tenure as mayor, Johnson plans to maintain having enough money available in the village’s financial reserve. Currently, Libertyville is “operating in the black,” according to Mayor Johnson, meaning the town has recently profited from sales tax receipts and from the federal government aid of $1.25 million provided from the American Rescue Plan earlier this year. Johnson expressed her interest in using money from the reserve to promote three different areas of community interest.

First, Mayor Johnson wishes to resume road repairs that began following a 2012 referendum.

“We were able to repair 40% of our roads, which still left 60% to repair because, for most areas in the state and throughout the United States, all the roads were poured with concrete so they’re all eroding at the same time,” she said.

Mayor Johnson will also maintain the most recent sales tax increase on dining and car sales, which has helped to supply the town’s financial reserve. She also plans to dedicate funds towards Wastewater Management Systems to address flooding in the Libertyville area. 

“I want to be able to support development that’s going to limit the financial impact on District 70 and District 128 such that property taxes are not increased,” said Mayor Johnson after presenting her plans.

Mayor Johnson said she has been “committed to public service all [her] life.” She feels that people in Libertyville will have confidence in her as a leader and as an individual because of her abilities. She understands the significance of being the first Black mayor of Libertyville, a majority-white town according to the 2019 U.S. Census. 

“I think I add a view that to me is going to elevate the perspective of my race, my gender, my culture, everything, but more importantly, it’s going to course correct what we’re all trying to achieve, which is that I’m a human being first, and I have talents that are useful and beneficial to this community,” said Mayor Johnson.