Benson Fires Former Mayor Who Allegedly Assaults Town Manager

Don Johnson
Don Johnson

The Town of Benson has fired former mayor and former Benson Public Works Director Don Johnson.

According to a letter from Mayor William Massengill, Mr. Johnson was fired during an emergency meeting Monday night for violence in the workplace.

In a letter to the general public, Mayor Massengill writes the following: “On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, a personnel meeting occured at the Town of Benson. In the presence of a fellow coworker, Electric Systems Director Donald H. Johnson physically assaulted and communicated a threat against Town Manager Matt Zapp.”

“Following an internal investigation into the matter, Mr. Johnson’s actions have resulted in the termination of his employment, effective May 18, 2015. Violence in the workplace is the most serious of infractions, is absolutely unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Johnson is a former multiple term mayor. He was serving as commissioner in November of 2012 when he stepped down after being hired as the town’s public works director. That would change later to him being solely in charge of the electric system. Benson sells power to its own residents through ElectriCities. 

Specifically, Mr. Johnson served as commissioner from 1993 to 1995 and as mayor from 1995 to 2005. 

Mr. Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at North Carolina State University before acquiring a master’s in business from Campbell University. Mr. Johnson also holds several other degrees and certifications in a host of different areas including construction project management, pest control, public health and a general contractor’s license. 

Before beginning his former role in Benson, he was project manager of Hunter Hampton Inc. and a broker for Wood Realty Group in Benson. His past job experience includes a project manager position at Fort Bragg and a business developer with Blackmon Contracting, based in Smithfield.

At the time of his hiring by the town, Mr. Zapp said Mr. Johnson’s experience in the field and his intimate knowledge of Benson and its infrastructure moved him to the top of the more than 75 applicants for the public utilities position. 

“He’s very astute – having him on board is a huge plus for the town. We hated to lose him as a commissioner, but we had to do what we had to do,” he said at the time.

Messages left for Mr. Johnson were not returned. 

Courtesy The Daily Record