Johnson replaces Sean Fitzpatrick, who resigned in January amid a controversy over his residency. Department heads are required to live in Hartford.
Johnson was most recently the senior director of strategy, policy and innovation for the New Haven Housing Authority. From 2010 to 2015, he worked as the executive director of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative, and after that he was vice president of development at the National Community Renaissance Corporation in California.
Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Trinity College and a master’s in city and regional planning from Morgan State University in Baltimore. He is a New Haven native.
“Erik Johnson is a seasoned, highly regarded economic development professional with extensive experience, and I am excited to bring him on board,” Bronin said. “Erik has worked in New Haven for almost a decade and in cities around the country for most of his career, as well as in the private sector. He has helped create the kind of public-private partnerships that are key to Hartford’s continued economic development.”
Johnson is expected to begin work with the city on Oct. 2. He will be paid $148,000 annually. The city council must approve his appointment.
Kiley Gosselin, who has served as interim development director since Fitzpatrick’s departure, will return to her role as deputy director.
“I’ve watched the beginnings of a revitalization take root in Hartford, and I am thrilled to help lead economic and community development in the capital city,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ve worked to bring residential and commercial development projects to life across the country, and I think Hartford is in a strong position to build on the growth we’ve already seen.”
Fitzpatrick listed the address of a Hartford social club as his residence on city forms. He also owned a home in Simsbury.
The social club, in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood, normally rents rooms to its members on a short-term basis and is not zoned as a residential property.
The city requires department heads and other non-union employees to move into Hartford within six months of their start date.
Prior to his resignation, the city’s internal audit commission began an investigation into Fitzpatrick’s actual residency. Howard Rifkin, Hartford’s corporation counsel, issued an opinion in January finding that Fitzpatrick’s address met the requirements of the city’s residency mandate.
“I told you at our first team meeting two years ago that we public servants shouldn’t expect to be thanked very often,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email to his staff upon resigning. “Baseless scandal-mongering needn’t be part of the deal however.”