Friday Five is a Q & A session that the Olathe Reporter publishes every Friday to get a glimpse of what is happening in the community.
Aaron Otto, Johnson County assistant county manager, has worked in government roles at the local, state and federal levels for more than 20 years.
Why the change in position and what is the difference between the two positions?
Otto: “While I was at the Airport Commission, I served as an agency head with a governing body and I reported to the County Manager’s Office. Now I have the opportunity to serve in the Manager’s Office again. Therefore, this was a significant opportunity to expand my experiences with several diverse public sector activities in the infrastructure area.”
What drew you to government administration as a career?
Otto: “From a very young age, I saw several members of my family get engaged in public service, which led me to pursue a master’s degree in public administration. I have been very fortunate to serve at all three levels of government over the last quarter century and I have found local government is where you can make a significant impact on improving the quality of individuals’ lives.”
What drew you to Johnson County government?
Otto: “Johnson County Government has a national reputation as a premier county in the country. A few of the elements that our county government is known for include: financial stability with a “triple-triple” bond rating; principles of a high performance organization and setting the national bar for its parks and libraries. These are just a few examples of the services that more than 4,000 employees in 28 different departments/agencies/offices provide to the Johnson County Community.”
What do you hope people remember about your time at the Johnson County Airport?
Otto: “While I will continue to work with the county's two airports as part of the county’s infrastructure portfolio, I am very proud of the progress that was made over the last seven years. We created new public/private partners to unlock over 850 acres for development. We restored aging infrastructure, much of which was put into place in 1942 when the airports were part of the Olathe Naval Air Station. We replaced a 1906-era rail that is part of the shortline railroad system at New Century. With the support of the Airport Commission, we built a solid financial footing for the future. But most importantly, we created a dynamic team that manages two of the busiest airports in the state, a shortline railroad that moves 700 to 1,000 cars a year, a water system that pushes 1,000,000 gallons of water a day and a vibrant commerce center with over 60 diverse businesses.”
You’ve held a lot of roles in your career - what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned and taken with you over that time?
Otto: “While there are unique challenges in serving in the public sector, you can see the impact you are making each day. When I was in college, I saw a quote that said the only people who are truly happy in life are those who find ways to serve others. By living through that motto, it is clear the difference one is making daily."
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