WILTON — Arthur Johnson, Wilton’s town supervisor for nearly two decades, won’t seek re-election in the fall.
The 72-year-old Republican, who was first elected in 2002, said the decision to retire was a difficult one, but he noted that within the past year he became a grandfather for the first time.
“With my newfound time, I plan to make frequent visits to my first grandchild who lives in Virginia and do some traveling with my wife,” Johnson said.
A native of Albany, Johnson was the town’s chief executive officer during a time when Wilton remained among the fastest-growing towns in Saratoga County.
Wilton has two Northway exits, and it adjoins Saratoga Springs. In the past two decades, it has continued to grow, both in the number of homes and the number of businesses. The population was 12,500 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is estimated at 17,000 today. In additional to new subdivisions and apartment complexes, commercial development has continued in the area around Northway Exit 15, and the Wilton Wildlife and Nature Preserve has been developed in the north-central part of town.
“To grow like that, it shows you’re doing things right,” Johnson said. “Low taxes are a big attraction, and it shows we can get things done quickly. We have really good schools, so the town has a lot to offer.”
It was early in Johnson’s tenure, about 2004, that Target Corp. established what is now a 1.5-million-square-foot regional distribution center off Exit 16, where hundreds of people new work.
Johnson, who previously served on the Town Board and was deputy supervisor, was appointed supervisor in 2002 to replace Roy McDonald after McDonald was elected to the state Assembly. He has since run for re-election every two years and never had an opponent until two years ago. He was chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors in 2009.
Throughout his tenure, the town has had no general fund tax or highway property tax, Johnson noted, and today, it has a roughly $7 million fund balance, or surplus.
Johnson, who retired as a hearing officer at the state Department of Taxation and Finance prior to becoming supervisor, has been involved in much of the county’s economic development and chaired the county board’s Economic Development Committee for many years.
Currently, Johnson serves on the county Industrial Development Agency and is a member of the Saratoga County Water Authority. He is also treasurer of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the county’s economic development marketing organization, but he will have to give that job up when his elected term ends on Dec. 31.
Johnson said he gets satisfaction from his economic development work and plans to stay involved in the water authority, the IDA, and the county Capital Resource Corp., which provides government-financing incentives to non-profit organizations like hospitals.
“It keeps my hand in it, and it’s not a major time commitment,” Johnson said.
He was instrumental in creation of the Saratoga County Water Authority, and the town was among the authority’s first customers when it was struggling while waiting for the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta to start up. The $14 billion manufacturing complex uses millions of gallons of water each day.
“One thing I was involved in was getting the county water authority and county water system going, and without that, we wouldn’t have gotten GlobalFoundries,” Johnson said.
“During Supervisor Johnson’s tenure, he has worked more than full-time in what is officially classified a part-time job,” said town Republican Committee Chairman Charles Foehser II. “With his hard work and leadership, Art has demonstrated what good stewardship can do for a community.”
The town position pays $36,000 per year, plus an additional $20,000 for serving on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.