Johnson announces State Rep. candidacy

In a series of campaign stops this week, State Rep. Joel Johnson announced he will be seeking a second term as 97th District Representative.

The 97th District will take in parts of Osceola County and the entirety of Clare, Gladwin, and Arenac Counties.

“Throughout my term in office, I have sought to make state government more effective and efficient,” Johnson said.  “Hardworking taxpayers are struggling.  They deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.  At the same time, I’ve looked to eliminate job-killing regulation while restoring the government’s proper role within the framework of our constitution.”

Johnson considers his bill that eliminated lifetime healthcare benefits for himself and future lawmakers as his top achievement this term.  Given that lawmaker pensions had been eliminated in the late 90s, Johnson’s reform means that he and future lawmakers will no longer receive ongoing benefits from the state when retired.

Johnson also insisted that lawmakers be included in measures that capped taxpayer liability for state healthcare plans, supported a 10 percent cut to his own salary, and implemented a nearly 20 percent reduction in his office staff and supplies budget.

“We have asked for sacrifices from our public workers,” Johnson noted.  “We as lawmakers must be willing to live under the same policies we ask of them.  This means leading by example.”

A longtime grain elevator manager from Clare, Johnson sits on the House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Insurance committees, where he has had a role in shaping policy measures over the past year.  He expressed a particular appreciation for the level of contact area residents have maintained with his office.

“My constituents speak with me constantly, be it at my monthly office hours in each county, numerous events around the district, or through my Lansing office.  This has helped me to take positions on legislation in an informed way.

“It was the farmers in our area that encouraged me to support the elimination of wild boars from Michigan’s game ranches in an effort to stop the crop destruction caused by feral swine.  Local families wrestling with the devastation of lifelong injuries after a car accident shared their stories with me and led me to stand against legislation changing Michigan’s Auto No Fault system while suggesting reforms of my own to make the system more efficient and accountable.  Local government leaders sharing their input led to my legislation requiring full payment of taxes by the DNR Trust Fund.  Our teachers have been in regular contact and have shared their concerns about pension changes I consider overzealous in their present form.  All of this contact has allowed me to to truly strive to represent the needs of this area.  I will continue to be actively on the job and open to input in the future.”

Johnson is currently working on measures that would promote skilled trades education in high school, equalize per-pupil funding between wealthy and poor school districts, prevent the use of bridge cards at fast food establishments, require citizenship verification as a condition of receiving state benefits, use future income tax revenues to fund road repair, and many others.

“I am hopeful that the measures we have put in place over the last year have put Michigan on track for economic recovery,” Johnson said.

“For too long, we’ve had to watch as our children leave the state for jobs.  I want them to have the option to work right here.

“There is more to do, and I would be honored to be able to continue to represent the people of this area for a second term.”