Bert JohnsonBert Johnson (SD2)
A lifelong resident with a 100-plus year family history in Detroit, Bert Johnson grew up in Russell Woods, on the city’s west side, the son of a postal employee and an attorney. He attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy and the University of Detroit – Mercy.
Bert went on to manage his family’s law firm for a decade before serving as then-State Representative Bill McConico’s Chief of Staff for five years. When McConico was unable to run for reelection due to term limits, Bert, with strong grassroots and community support, ran to succeed him in the Legislature in 2006. A leader with the skills and experience to advance a progressive, forward-thinking agenda, Bert quickly established himself as a go-to person when it comes to passing legislation.
Bert’s work on behalf of Michigan’s citizens has been recognized with various awards and honors, which include a “Men of Excellence” Award from the Michigan Chronicle, a “Great Expectations” Award from the Detroit Branch NAACP, a “Humane Legislator of the Year” Award from the Humane Society of the United States, a “Friend of the MAC” Award from the Michigan Association of Counties, and a “Cancer Prevention” Award from the national organization, Less Cancer, in honor of his work to establish Cancer Prevention Day in Michigan. His passions and legislative focus issues include educational access for all, civil rights, regional mass transit, foreclosure relief, improved and more affordable healthcare, addressing the expansion of the prison-industrial complex, environmental responsibility, and economic development and investment.
In the 2009-10 legislative session, only Bert’s second term in the Michigan House, he solidified his reputation as a problem-solver. As a two-term Detroit Caucus Chair and serving as one of only two African-American committee chairs in the Michigan government, he held the gavel for the powerful Regulatory Reform committee. Bert passed more laws that session than any other Democratic or Republican member in the House or the Senate. His performance led former Senate Democratic Floor Leader Buzz Thomas to call him, “Detroit’s most effective legislator.”
Today, Bert is able to drive a statewide discussion despite serving in the ‘super-minority’ in the Senate, while still achieving real results for his constituents. He was a lead sponsor of legislation that established a regional transit authority in southeastern Michigan and authored the bill that eliminated the egregious charges associated with the draconian Driver’s Responsibility Fee. Bert has been on the front lines in championing workers’ rights and the labor movement, working to raise the minimum wage, defending Michigan’s least affluent citizens from the ongoing assaults of the GOP agenda, fighting foreclosures, and opposing and exposing the ineffective Education Achievement Authority experiment.
Bert is a board member for Michigan Youth in Government and regularly addresses their conventions at the Capitol. He has been Treasurer of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and has served with defense and prosecuting attorneys, judges, justice advocates and others on the statewide Indigent Defense Advisory Commission, tasked with making recommendations on improving Michigan’s public defender system.
Bert represents the 2nd Senate District, which includes northeast Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and the five Grosse Pointe Communities. He serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Health Policy Committee, and as Minority Vice-Chair of the Regulatory Reform Committee. Bert is devoted to raising his children in a loving and stable home with the same values of hard work and humanitarianism his parents instilled in him.