Donivee Johnson to step down after nearly a quarter century as Canton, Minn., mayor

CANTON, Minn. – Canton Mayor Donivee Johnson will preside over her final city council meeting on Dec. 9, after nearly a quarter century as mayor.

Canton Mayor Donivee Johnson

“I will always be interested in what’s happening in Canton,” says outgoing Mayor Donivee Johnson, who has led the town for 12 terms and almost a quarter century.

Johnson, a Canton native whose father was mayor decades ago, whetted her appetite for council service when she was appointed to fill a vacancy in July 1994.
That experience led to a mayoral stint that began on Jan. 1, 1996.
“The 21st century was soon upon us, and I thought we could do better,” recalled Johnson, who has served 12 terms during the past 24 years.

The 1966 graduate of Canton High School — the final Canton graduating class before it consolidated with Mabel — grew up watching both of her parents being involved in the community. Her father, Ronald Ramlo, was mayor in the 1950s and 60s.
“I’m not so sure this could be called a Ramlo family tradition, but several of us have certainly dedicated a lot of ourselves to serving the public,” she said.
Canton’s wastewater treatment plant, built during her father’s tenure, was failing when she became mayor. She laid the groundwork to secure funding for construction of a new $1.6 million facility. The new plant was completed in 2004.

“We were awarded a very generous grant and a low-interest loan to pay for the project,” Johnson said.

Other notable projects Johnson mentions as highlights of her mayoral career include a $400,000 housing grant to rehabilitate 20 homes in Canton and a major renovation to the Canton Town Hall, funded largely with a bequest from a former Canton resident.

“By saving the interest on his money, we were able to put a new foundation under the building, construct a new addition, and install siding and roofing,” Johnson explained.
“Costs to the taxpayers were minimal,” she said, adding, “I hope future councils will be good stewards of this man’s gift to his hometown.”

Johnson advises residents of Canton — a Fillmore County town of about 350 residents 40 miles southwest of La Crosse as the crow flies — to be involved in and informed about their local government.

“Know the issues that the council has to make decisions about on your behalf,” she said.

Even though Johnson no longer will preside at the monthly city council meetings, she said her interest won’t fade after nearly three decades in city government.

“I will always be interested in what’s happening in Canton,” Johnson said. “I will continue attending council meetings as a means of keeping myself up to date with current affairs.”

Mayor-elect Nicholas Prestby will be sworn in on Jan. 13.