Representative Susan Johnson began proudly serving Windham residents in the Connecticut General Assembly in January 2009. Windham is one of Connecticut’s most distressed municipalities. Windham is a partner with the state’s distressed municipalities which provide services to their respective regions and the State of Connecticut.
Susan is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University which is located in the 49th House District. For nearly 20 years she worked as an advocate for Medicare beneficiaries at Connecticut Legal Services and at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. During that time, she attended and graduated from the Western New England College School of Law. She is a law partner in the Willimantic-based private practice law firm O’Brien & Johnson, Attorneys at Law, working with her husband, retired Judge of Probate Dennis O’Brien.
Before coming to the legislature, Susan Johnson served three terms as a selectman of the Town of Windham. She also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Assessment Appeals. During her service on the Board of Selectmen, she chaired the Utilities Committee and the Mid Northeast Recycling Operating Committee, which created Connecticut's first regional hazardous waste recycling center in Willington. As a former selectman, Rep. Johnson helped create the Julia De Burgos Poetry Park, heralded in the New York Times in 2001. She also secured funding for a housing code enforcement officer. Dedicated to the preservation of the environment, Rep. Johnson still serves as Chair of the Windham Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
Rep. Johnson and Dennis O’Brien co-host “Let’s Talk About It,” a weekly public affairs show on WILI-AM and FM radio that Susan helped launch in 1998. Rep. Johnson and Dennis O’Brien also co-host a local cable access TV show called “Windham Works.”
Rep. Johnson is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, Windham County Bar Association, the Willimantic Elks Lodge #1311, the Windham Democratic Town Committee, the Willimantic chapter of the NAACP and the Willimantic Lions Club. She is a former member of the Willimantic Rotary Club and a former member of the local Auxiliary American Legion.
Rep. Johnson is serving her second term as a Deputy Majority Leader and is a member of the legislature's Appropriations Committee, Education Committee and Housing Committee. She has been serving as a member of the Medical Assistance Oversight Council (MAPOC) and as the MAPOC Complex Care Sub Committee co-chair since 2012. Rep. Johnson also helped create and served as co-chair of the English Language Learners legislative Task Force. During the 2013 to 2015 legislative sessions, Rep. Johnson served as House Chair of the legislature's Public Health Committee. She also served as the Regulations Review Committee House Chair during the 2019 to 2021 legislative sessions.
In 2019, Rep. Johnson successfully championed legislation that established a taskforce to analyze the state Workers' Compensation Commission's claims process. The taskforce to studied the extent of unreasonably contested or delayed workers' compensation claims and made recommendations on how to prevent bad faith handling of insurance claims.
During the 2018 Legislative Session, Rep. Johnson garnered funding for a Willimantic parking garage, constructed adjacent to the Willimantic Public Safety Complex. The grand opening was held in October 2021. Rep. Johnson also obtained funding for the nearly completed Community-Senior Center at Jillson Square. A grand opening will be held in May 2022. Windham held the grand opening in 2018 for the historically recognized Shaboo Stage. Rep. Johnson was able to secure bonding funds for the Stage which helped to bring to downtown Willimantic a stage where nationally acclaimed musicians perform and also to host numerous community and local activities. The stage attracted the original Shaboo Inn owner and musician David (Lefty) Foster from the Mohegan Sun Allstars whose family foundation agreed to contribute to the cost of the stage through 2028.
Currently, state bonding has been approved for the “Windham High School Renovate as New” project. The high school has never been renovated since it was built in 1969. Ground breaking occurred in October of 2021, and the project is underway. In 2022, bonding for new Police and Fire Dispatch Center equipment was secured as well as for the “Downtown White-Water Park” improvements and walkway.
Rep. Johnson also advocated for funding to support Connecticut veterans by expanding access for mental health services to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or military sexual violence, and social reintegration.
In 2017, Rep. Johnson worked with members of the General Assembly, the Office of Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the Public Health Committee to create the Office of Health Care Strategy in the Department of Public Health to better ensure equal access to health care evenly across the State for all kinds and levels of care.
Rep. Johnson has promoted legislation that expands teaching and learning opportunities for Connecticut students and teachers and addresses our achievement gaps and enhances minority teacher recruitment efforts. Effective in 2018, Rep. Johnson was pleased to announce implementation of new initiatives she strongly supported to equalize the Educational Cost Sharing formula among all school districts. By 2028, Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant equalization will come to full fruition as historically drastically underfunded schools located in lower-income communities like Windham will finally receive full funding.
In 2022, Rep. Johnson was pleased to help provide $100,000.00 in funding for local students interested in criminal justice or becoming an Emergency Medical Technician. These funds will help the Windham Pride Coalition help students to develop leadership skills. The funds will be available to provide Windham High School EMT students and Pride Coalition students with post-secondary higher education scholarships.