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CA Department of Insurance

Commissioner responds to Grantland Johnson passing

News: 2014 Press Release

For Release: August 19, 2014
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones statement in response to the passing of Grantland Johnson
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Sacramento County Supervisor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones released the following statement regarding the passing of Grantland Johnson.

"Today California lost a great leader and public servant, when Sacramento's own Grantland Johnson passed away this morning. I would like to pass on my sincerest condolences to his wife and family members.

I feel so very fortunate to have had the friendship of Grantland Johnson.

He was one of the first people I met shortly after I arrived and began living in Sacramento in 1988. I was given Grantland's name and phone number by one of my professors at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, who had also taught Grantland. I called then-Supervisor Grantland Johnson and introduced myself and he immediately offered to meet me and take me to lunch. He even offered to pick me up and drive me to and from the lunch, which was extremely kind as I didn't have a working car and did not know my way around town. That he was willing to take the time to meet with a young person newly arrived in town who he had never met before, in the face of all the demands on his time as a County Supervisor and of all the other more important people with whom he had to meet, was just one of countless examples of how Grantland always found time to encourage and mentor people, regardless of who they were.

We spent that first lunch meeting talking for hours about our mutual interests: improving neighborhoods, getting more affordable housing built, our support for inclusionary affordable housing ordinances, civil rights, and other social equality policies. Thankfully, he also paid for lunch, as I was newly graduated and broke! That began a friendship that continued until this sad day. He inspired me and countless others in public service by his selfless example of leadership and public service.

He was an extraordinary public servant and leader. He served as a Sacramento City Councilmember, member of the Board of Supervisors, as a Presidential appointee as Director of Health and Human Services Department Region IX, and as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Governor Gray Davis Administration. He was a passionate and dedicated advocate for the poor, for improving low income communities, and for civil rights and social equity.

Grantland Johnson fought the tough and often times lonely fights for social justice, including leading the charge to enact an inclusionary affordable housing ordinance for the County of Sacramento in the 1980's, a goal that he lived to see fulfilled by his successor on the Board, then-Supervisor now Assemblymember Roger Dickinson. I relied on his guidance and counsel when I authored the Mixed Income Housing Ordinance which was enacted by the Sacramento City Council when I served as a City Councilmember. This is just one of many examples of how his policy leadership and mentorship blazed the path for others to follow.

He made a tremendous difference in the lives of countless Californians. He always took the time to encourage and mentor people, and to help them achieve their potential. When we recently spoke last month during a visit at his home in Curtis Park for what I now know was the last time, despite his illness, he was still brimming with ideas and policy proposals to make Sacramento and California a better place. I will miss him dearly, as will all who knew him and many who did not, but who benefited nonetheless from his advocacy and leadership."

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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