State Representative Candidate: James Johnson
If elected, James F. Johnson, the challenger for Iowa State Representative District 82, said he’ll represent the values of rural southeast Iowans in Des Moines.
“I tell everybody, I’m not a politician, I’m just a common person who has worked hard and played by the rules,” he said.
Johnson competed for House District 94 two years ago, where he lost by 76 votes. He planned to run only once, but after redistricting put him in the race with Hanson, he saw an opportunity for his platform to stand out.
“Hanson doesn’t have the same values I have,” he said. “I believe in small, limited government.”
Johnson lives in rural Davis County on a small acreage, with his wife Marilyn, and has worked for the Davis County Secondary Roads Department for 25 years. He and his wife home schooled their three daughters who now live in nearby towns. In his free time, Johnson leads services at a nondenominational church in Pulaski.
Johnson said he’s learned his constituents’ concerns through door-to-door visits, holding meet and greets and attending parades, where he said he “gets there early and stays late.”
“Our families are struggling, the economy is struggling,” he said. “People believe we’re taxed to death.”
Lowering commercial property taxes and deregulating businesses are two ways in which Johnson said state representatives can help promote entrepreneurship.
“Iowa is really a difficult place to start a business,” he said. “People think we can’t reduce property taxes — We can’t afford not to.”
He didn’t name specific ways he’d deregulate business, saying he’d rely on constituents to communicate their wishes.
“I’ll see where businesses think we need to cut regulations,” he said. “It’s not the government’s role to create jobs, but we can create an environment where people want to set up shop and start a small business.”
Not only state regulations, but also escalating energy and food costs are hurting business, he said. Johnson said he’s in favor of affordable energy, be it fossil fuel or renewable energy.
“I like the idea behind green energy,” he said, “anything that would free us from buying fuel from countries who don’t like us very well.”
However, Johnson doesn’t see renewable energy as issuing in a new industry of high tech jobs in Iowa as Hanson does.
“Hanson keeps saying smokestack jobs aren’t coming back,” he said. “I’m just not sure where these high tech jobs he’s talking about would come from.”
Johnson believes the federal government shouldn’t be involved in Iowa’s education system.
“Education is more of a states’ rights issue,” he said.
“We need to decentralize education.”
National initiatives like No Child Left Behind concern Johnson, which he said takes a “one-size fits all, cookie cutter” approach to learning.
“We need to tell the government, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” he said.
Because of his religious beliefs as a pastor, Johnson said he would take a stance on abortion and marriage.
“I would focus on the life issue,” he said. “Because of my faith, I believe that life begins at conception.”
Johnson disagrees with the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling making same-sex marriage legal in Iowa.
“I don’t care what people think about same-sex marriage, what concerns me is how we allowed them [judges] to issue an opinion and call it law,” he said.
Johnson said he’d represent his constituent’s principles, not those of Republicans or Democrats. He said the people of southeast Iowa are tired of pettiness between parties.
“They feel both parties are no longer listening,” he said. “The parties seem to want to bicker back and forth and jockey for power.”
Without a background in politics, Johnson believes he’s the candidate who will look at issues based on merit, not party lines.
“Common sense: that’s what I plan on taking to Des Moines with me,” he said.
While he admits to a difference in philosophy with many Democratic ideals, he said, “A good bill is a good bill regardless of who brings it up.”