top of page
Paul Johnson.jpg

Who is
Paul Johnson?

Former Phoenix Mayor,
Co-Founder of Redirect Health

While serving his term, Phoenix received the prestigious Bertelsmann Award, recognizing it as the 'Best Run City in the World.' This accolade was attributed in part to Mayor Johnson's initiatives in transitioning the city to a self-insurance model. Since leaving office, former Mayor Paul Johnson has been dedicated to discovering cost-effective healthcare solutions for both businesses and individuals, aiming to reduce unnecessary expenses.

img (1)_edited.jpg


City Council

At just 25 years old, Johnson defied expectations by winning a seat on the Phoenix City Council in a heavily Republican district, earning the moniker "Kid from Sunnyslope." His grassroots campaign, marked by volunteers knocking on nearly all 90,000 doors in the area, propelled him to victory. Despite skepticism about his youth and party affiliation, Johnson's strategic political team secured his success. During his tenure, he prioritized revitalizing his childhood neighborhood, Sunnyslope, spearheading initiatives to address poverty, improve infrastructure, and combat crime.


Known for his hands-on approach, Johnson took on various physical jobs within city departments, gaining firsthand experience. His council work emphasized economic development and environmental conservation, advocating for measures like ethanol-based fuels and tree planting to reduce carbon emissions. Johnson's unwavering dedication, near-perfect attendance record, and boundless enthusiasm characterized his tenure on the council.

Elected Mayor

Paul Johnson's appointment to the Phoenix City Council in 1990, at 25, catapulted him into a leadership role marked by skepticism over his youth. Despite challenges, Johnson swiftly rose to become mayor at 30, tackling economic issues while maintaining a diverse agenda covering environmental concerns, education, social justice, ethics, and crime. Known for his hands-on approach, he actively participated in various city departments, earning the nickname "Top Gun" for his involvement in police matters. Johnson's leadership was characterized by personal sacrifice, exemplified by his willingness to undergo regular drug testing to reassure police officers about new standards.


The Phoenix Economic Crisis

Paul Johnson assumed the mayoral office of Phoenix amidst the 1990 recession, compounded by the savings and loan crisis and the Gulf War's economic aftermath. Facing a plummeting real estate market and dwindling city revenues, Johnson implemented measures to stabilize the economy. He prioritized attracting businesses, expanding international flights, and fostering economic development through tax restraint and government downsizing. Despite severe revenue losses, Johnson balanced the budget without tax hikes and even achieved a slight decrease in property taxes. Amidst crises like America West Airlines' bankruptcy and a transit strike, Johnson brokered compromises to retain key assets like airline headquarters and promoted civic pride initiatives. 

Civic Triumphs

In the face of controversy surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Mayor Johnson pursued three key strategies: challenging the NFL's stance, advocating for economic recovery, and mobilizing support for a second vote on the holiday. Through community engagement and the involvement of civil rights leaders like Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks, Johnson successfully campaigned for the holiday's reinstatement, making Arizona the sole state to pass it by public vote at the time. Furthermore, Johnson championed civil rights and human rights initiatives, including a landmark Human Rights Ordinance prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Despite legal challenges from organizations like the NRA and the ACLU, Johnson's administration implemented measures such as a juvenile curfew and firearm regulations to address rising crime rates, resulting in a significant decrease in juvenile crime and graffiti. Additionally, Johnson played a pivotal role in preserving Phoenix's Indian School Park, negotiating a deal to safeguard the iconic site from commercial development, a move lauded by the community.


National Political Figure

Johnson's involvement in presidential campaigns, including those of Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, and General Wesley Clark, showcased his leadership and pro-business advocacy. Despite unsuccessful gubernatorial bids in 1994 and 1998, Johnson earned endorsements from major newspapers and forged partnerships with former adversaries like Fife Symington, collaborating on post-office initiatives. His friendship with the late Senator John McCain marked a significant shift from bitter enemies to close allies, with Johnson actively supporting McCain's 2008 presidential bid. A staunch advocate for political reform, Johnson has fought against the influence of dark money and championed initiatives to empower independent voters, such as opening primary elections and increasing transparency in campaign financing. He continues to be a prominent figure in Arizona politics, leading efforts alongside former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard to unite on issues of electoral reform and accountability.

Redirect Health

After his political career, Johnson transitioned into business and civic leadership, earning recognition as one of the state's most admired leaders. Alongside his son Justin Johnson, he has been involved in various ventures, including building homes for entry-level workforce housing and founding technology companies. Johnson's primary focus has been Redirect Health, a company dedicated to disrupting the healthcare system by providing affordable options for low-wage workers. Advocating for a free-market approach, he emphasizes the need to address administrative inefficiencies and overcharging, citing potential cost reductions validated by healthcare professionals. His efforts have garnered attention from publications like BenefitsPro, InBusiness, and Chief Executive, highlighting his commitment to revolutionizing healthcare and providing accessible alternatives to traditional employer programs, particularly for the working poor.


The Optimistic American

Paul is currently spearheading a transformative endeavor through his podcast, "The Optimistic American." With an unwavering commitment to revitalizing the American ethos, Paul and his team aim to reignite the nation's spirit, empower individuals to reclaim agency, and narrate the extraordinary American saga of hope and potential. Their mission is clear: to underscore the pressing importance of optimism in today's world. Through insightful discussions and compelling narratives, they illuminate how the past, present, and future of America brim with promise—a promise sustained by the bold endeavors of courageous individuals and visionary organizations. In a time where the essence of American identity risks being overshadowed, Paul's podcast serves as a beacon, reminding listeners of the innate optimism ingrained in the American fabric.

bottom of page