Richard Johnson: Candidate profile
Name: Richard Johnson
Website: <URL destination="https://johnsonforillinois.com">johnsonforillinois.com
</URL>Twitter: <URL destination="https://twitter.com/johnsonforil?lang=en">@JohnsonForIL
</URL>Facebook: <URL destination="https://www.facebook.com/pg/JohnsonforIllinois/posts/">@JohnsonforIllinois
</URL>Office sought: Illinois House, District 65
Family: Wife, Daughter, and 3 fun dogs
Education: JD, John Marshall Law School; Master's, Olivet Nazarene University, Education -- Curriculum and Instruction; Bachelor's; Roosevelt University, Social Sciences for Teacher Education
Civic involvement: I have been involved with my community through volunteering, sponsoring clubs and coaching at schools in U-46
Elected offices: N/A
Questions & Answers
Would you vote to approve a graduated income tax? If so, what qualifiers would you impose and where would you set the brackets? What would the top tax rate be?
I will not vote in favor of a graduated income tax or any tax for that matter that would be an increase on working class families.
How big a problem is the level of property taxation in Illinois? If you view it as a problem, what should be done about it?
Historically, Springfield has imposed unfunded mandates on local communities, forcing property taxes to increase. I will oppose unfunded mandates. Moreover, I will work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to lower the collective tax burden on Illinois families. Specifically, I would work to fund our schools at levels that allow all students to receive a high-quality education while easing the property tax burden imposed on homeowners. I would concentrate my efforts on deepening the state's responsibility for being the funder of first resort for local schools, which is called for in the Illinois Constitution. Local governments and homeowners can longer endure property tax increases.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
Governor Rauner made promises to shake up Springfield. Instead, he broke Springfield. He has accomplished none of his goals. He plunged the state into an ongoing crisis that the treasury financially weaker and our higher education system wounded. The only thing that he managed did do was to create annual chaos for local schools and community colleges, leading to job losses, program elimination, unnecessary borrowing, and pushing many to the brink of closing their doors. His budget impasse and vetoes of budgets for a 2-year period was an example of his failed leadership.
What is your evaluation of Speaker Michael Madigan's job performance? If you voted for him for speaker in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
I believe that Speaker Madigan was instrumental in certain pivotal legislation for the state. I believe that marriage equality in Illinois does not exist without the Speaker. I also believe that schools would have closed their doors in the beginning of school year 17-18 without Speaker Madigan. This would have left many students at a disadvantage and would have caused major disruptions to their lives.
Should there be term limits for legislative leaders? If so, what would you do to make that happen? What other systemic changes should be made to strengthen the voice of individual legislators, limit the control of legislative leaders, encourage bipartisanship?
I am happy to explore term limits for leadership. New ideas, new voices, and independent thought is needed in many facets of Illinois politics.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
There are an infinite number of reasons that residents have chosen to move out of Illinois. The taxes in the state are burdensome, but that alone is not the reason why people have left. Some leave for job opportunities, some leave for family reasons, still others leave for better weather, and some have lost hope and trust in the people who represent them in Springfield. I will work to restore that trust by making sure that we truly represent the will of the people and get work done in Springfield.
I will advocate for reinvestment in infrastructure in Illinois. We need to have roads, railway, public transportation, bridges and waterway access to attract businesses and manufacturing to Illinois. We must ensure that businesses can secure loans, and are able to hire a qualified workforce in Illinois. Properly funding our public schools and our higher education institutions that will train that qualified workforce is a must.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
While some in my party refuse to work conscientiously with legislators across the aisle, I will put forth my greatest effort to put aside political differences for the greater good of Illinois. I am committed to finding a way to lower the tax burden in District 65.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I am a strong advocate for women's health and protecting their right to choose. I also want the state to ensure funding for our seniors so that vital programs can allow them to stay in their own homes and receive the care that they need. Protecting our environment, moving to alternative and renewable energy sources is a must.
In addition, here a few questions meant to provide more personal insight into you as a person:
What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
The decision to leave my classroom and decide to run for office. I have spent the last 17 years of my life working with our young people. They are so important to me and they have made a difference in my life. A life that I have spent in public service. I am truly blessed to work in the field of education, a field in which I have been able to make a difference in young lives. Not everyone can say that they make a difference every day, but I am one of the lucky ones that can say so. I know that I can continue to make a difference if I am chosen by the people of District 65 to represent them.
Who is your hero?
I know that this will sound cliché, but is it so true for me. My parents are truly heroes to me. My mother came here from Ecuador when she was 19 years old with two young boys in tow. With a limited knowledge of the English language and few people she knew in a foreign land. The poverty that she knew as a child, the disadvantages she faced, the new country she has now adopted as her own were challenges that would have crushed many a person. She has worked so hard her entire life and I am proud to be her son.
My father grew up in Duluth, Minnesota where his father left him when he was still a young boy. His education was cut short by 8th grade and he struggled through tough times with family. He later completed his GED, worked hard and later was the Head Custodian of a 250,000 square foot complex. He has taught me everything I know about politics, hard work, and integrity. I am proud to be his son.
That is what being a hero is all about. Fighting through adversity, working hard and persevering.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The first amendment to the Constitution. There is a reason that it's first. There is nothing more precious in those amendments than freedom. Our right to free speech that cannot be abridged by Congress, our right to believe, our right to assemble, our right to redress government, those are things that so many have fought and died for.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Listening. Active listening. We all want to hear ourselves talk (especially those of us running for office), but it is through listening that we are able to really learn about others, and in turn, ourselves.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
I learned that anytime is a good time for ask for help. Sometimes we try to power through without considering the many people that we know and care for us that would be willing to help us when we need them most. We have to have the humility, and the wisdom to ask for that help.