By Teresa Holloway
Messenger Special Reporter
PALESTINE – The East Texas Council of Governments awarded Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston the coveted Regional Statesman award on March 16.
The Regional Statesman award recognizes a local, state or federal official who has demonstrated valuable, dedicated service to regional cooperation.
“I am greatly humbled, and was very surprised by, this honor,” Johnston said. “I am greatly honored to have been chosen as the Regional Statesman for the East Texas Council of Governments.”
“Being in Rotary, one of our mottos is ‘Service Above Self’ and I believe if I’m going to be involved in something I need to give 100 percent to it and give all I can. That’s what I try to do in everything I participate in,” he said.
Johnston has served in various roles on the ETCOG Board of Directors and Executive Committee since 2011.
In January 2013, he was elected Vice Chairman of the Chief Elected Officials/Rural Planning Organization Board. The primary role of the board is to oversee the Workforce Solutions East Texas board, advise TxDOT in regional rural transportation needs and advise ETCOG on other regional needs and special projects.
Following his election as Vice Chairman, Johnston was elected Chairman of the CEO/RPO board at the September 2015 meeting and steadily moved through various officer positions.
His experience culminated in his September 2015 election as Chairman of the ETCOG Board of Directors he was the first elected official in the history of the region to serve simultaneously as Chairman of both the ETCOG Board of Directors and the CEO/RPO Board where, according to ETCOG officials, he provided diligent and seasoned leadership for both.
In the 12-month period from 2015 to 2016, Johnston presided over a total of at least 16 regional meetings, not including other volunteer services and his service as county judge.
Johnston is in the middle of serving his second term as Anderson County Judge. He also is a Rotarian and a Paul Harris Fellow.
He has served as a member of the Palestine City Council, and as president of the North and East County Judges and Commissioners Association (where he is currently the Immediate Past President).
He serves on the Board of the Texas Association of Counties, on the Judges & Commissioners Association of Texas Board as the Board’s legislative Chair, as director on the local Palestine YMCA Board and served as the president of the Anderson County Veterans Board.
Johnston said he plans to continue his service to his community in whatever capacity he is elected to.