When Councilwoman Tonya Davis Johnson ran her political campaign, she didn’t talk about being a lesbian.
Instead, Johnson said she wanted to make her successful bid for Riviera Beach’s District 3 Council seat about “my ideas and the people.”
Elected in March of 2016 to a three-year term, Johnson originally served on the council for six months in 2009 after being appointed. Last year wasn’t her first election campaign but it did result in her becoming the city’s first openly-gay elected official.
“Being elected said to me that the people supported my platform, my ideals and my desire to serve them.”
Even though her sexuality never came up in a public forum, she said it’s no secret, and that her being elected, by a public which knows she’s a lesbian, is a sign of progress and most people not caring about issues like that anymore. Johnson lives in Riviera Beach with her partner, Felicia A. Scott, and granddaughter, Brookelyn, and two dogs, Mello and Roxy.
She said the issues she’s most concerned about are crime, education, housing, economic development, small business development, retention and the redevelopment of the city.
“I think as people get to know me and see my work and commitment. That’s all they’ll care about. [My sexuality] has nothing to with my ability to serve the citizens of Riviera Beach.”
But just as voters expect the same level of hard work and commitment, Johnson faces the same challenges as her straight counterparts when it comes to finding a balance between politics and the personal.
Meeting the challenge, she said, involves “making time” for her family.