Pastor Derrick Johnson’s campaign is suspended, but the race for mayor of McKinney is not over yet. Because of election rules, Johnson’s name is still on track to be on ballots in McKinney when early voting begins on April 29.
For that reason, incumbent Mayor Brian Loughmiller is not going to stop campaigning and working hard to get his message to the people of McKinney. “For me, it’s not much different than it was before. I’m taking time to get out there to educate the people and let them know what the council is doing,” Loughmiller told TownSquareBuzz.com on Wednesday.
Loughmiller still intends to maintain most of his campaign schedule but will shift his focus from campaigning against Johnson to campaigning on behalf of the city as whole. “The way I characterized it is that I’m not out there campaigning in terms of what I can do versus what my opponent can do,” Loughmiller said. “There will still be a campaign. It will end up being more educational. It gives me an opportunity to talk about what’s important for McKinney.”
Johnson and Loughmiller met in an informal setting last week to introduce themselves to each other because they did not know each other prior to Johnson’s decision to run. “It wasn’t a discussion (about) if he would be running or not running,” Loughmiller said.
In that meeting, Loughmiller and Johnson discussed Johnson’s concerns and what led Johnson to throw his hat into the mayoral ring. Speaking of the meeting, Loughmiller said, “I wanted him to know that my focus was on the issues of the city and to show him what I’m trying to accomplish.”
The two men found that they shared some of the same concerns and Loughmiller told Johnson about some of the city’s East side improvement initiatives. “He was not aware of some of the things the council had done. I think there was a realization that we have the same concerns,” Loughmiller said.
Johnson offered his assessment of the meeting with Loughmiller. “We both have McKinney’s best interest at heart. We talked about a lot of the issues facing McKinney — my concern is for the entire city of McKinney,” Johnson told TSB on Wednesday. “We have similar visions to improve the East side. We both want to see growth and improvement. We agree on a lot of things,” he said.
For his part, Loughmiller left the meeting assuming he still had an opponent in the election. “I think he felt comfortable about where I stood. No statements were made to me about whether he’d run or not,” Loughmiller said.
But after realizing Loughmiller shared his concerns for the future of McKinney, Johnson said he decided that he would suspend his campaign. “I decided instead of running against him that it would be in the city’s best interest to work together,” Johnson said. “The focus is now how we can work together to make the city great. It’s really hard to campaign against someone that you agree with.”
Despite Johnson’s earlier statements about the perceived divide in McKinney, he says it was not his intention to divide the city. “I don’t believe there is a separation between the East and the West. There are not two McKinneys. There’s only one McKinney,” Johnson said.
Johnson told TSB that he now intends to make himself more visible throughout the community and try to help the city in areas outside of the city council chambers. “I feel like I better serve the community by doing other things. Yes, I do plan to be more visible in the community. I want to be a community leader,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he anticipates he and Loughmiller working together in the future, “to find ways of how we can improve and resolve differences and make a better community,” Johnson said. “I feel very positive about the future relationship between the mayor and I. I feel very positive about how we can partner together and do what’s best for the entire city.”
Despite Johnson’s intention to no longer actively campaign for votes, his name will most likely still appear on the ballot because the official cutoff to remove the name had passed. And because of that, Loughmiller’s mission is now to let McKinney’s citizens know that his re-election isn’t a certainty without their support.
“I appreciate Derrick’s sentiment of supporting me as mayor. I also recognize that his name is still on the ballot and there’s still going to be an election,” Loughmiller said. “I still have to get people to the polls and get them to vote. I don’t want there to be complacency amongst the voting public and want them to think that I already won.”