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Steve Johnson visits Mt. Hall to talk senate campaign

September 21, 2022
Gini Woodward, second from right, tells those gathered to hear Steve Johnson, write-in candidate for Idaho Senate, why she supports Johnson, second from left.

By Clarice McKenney

Idaho District 1 Senate write-in candidate Steve Johnson explained to a group of voters in north Boundary County Tuesday his three main objectives if he is elected in November. First and foremost, he said, is to get the homeowner’s exemption to property taxes doubled from its current $125,00 to $250,000 so that folks are able to afford to live their lives in their own homes. He gave an example of property near his longtime farm, a neighbor with 160 acres who is selling it in five-acre pieces.

“The price went from last year’s $50,000 an acre to $200,00 an acre,” and these skyrocketing prices, he said, are making it prohibitive for those who merely want to continue living in their homes as “comparable property sales” raise everyone’s property taxes.

The second objective, he said, is to exercise strong support in the Idaho Senate for public education. “The guy I’m running against vowed to do away with public education, but I’ll be a strong ‘yes’ vote," he said. “Life is so different now than it was when my father, a sawmill worker in Kelso, Washington, raised my three brothers and me. I thank him for recognizing when he was older and could no longer do that work that we all needed to get an education,” Johnson explained. All four of us went on to get higher education and then into fields that not only supported our families but also gave meaning to our lives and helped others.”

Johnson was a teacher and then a principal at Sandpoint’s South Side Elementary.

While at South Side, a teacher inspired him both to become a teacher himself and also to serve the community in elected office.

“Jim Stoicha was the reason I became interested in politics," he said. “Like many of you, I knew Jim (Woodward) is such a good guy and state senator that I ran to replace a state representative that I felt was not. When Jim lost to a man who uses dishonesty and distortion of facts, I immediately called the Secretary of State in Boise and learned that the only way to run against this guy was as an Independent write-in."

Johnson added that under Idaho’s current two major party regulations, only the Democratic Party in Idaho has an open primary; the Republican Primary is closed.

“It used to be that both were open primaries, so a voter might do better to vote Independent always,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his third objective is based on his family’s history of fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and huckleberry picking on public lands of Idaho.

“My opponent wants to sell off public lands, but I want our rural values to stay intact,” he said. “So, to accomplish these things, I need your help. If each of you tells 10 people about our campaign and tell them to share it with 10 others, we’ll have ourselves a grassroots movement. If you’re like me, you don’t do a lot of social media, but if you know someone who does, share our campaign with them. Please volunteer to help in any of the different ways like posting a yard sign, and if you can, kick in $5 to $20 to help us with radio ads and signs.”

Longtime resident Bill Branson said, “He reminds me of my high school principa,l” and thanked Johnson on behalf of the group for coming, and applause reverberated through the hall. His wife, Sue, though, looked concerned as she asked, “How are you planning to combat the lies we know will be thrown at you with truth in this campaign?”

“I probably will be more in his face than Jim was. To Jim’s credit he tried to explain the truth because he was raised to be polite,” he said, winking toward Jim's mom, Gini Woodward, who introduced Johnson and is a volunteer on his campaign. “I appreciate his statesmanship, but if one is assaulted by a pig, you gotta take the pig down.”

When the laughter died down, Johnson said, “Seriously, as a former teacher and principal of elementary and alternative school, some of these kids are a little scary, tattoos, earrings, but I treated them with respect. If they got into trouble I talked with them as a good police officer would, with respect, with dignity and with consequences for their actions and words.”

That brought hearty applause, and as the event was ending, several attendees expressed enthusiastic support for Johnson as state senator.

“I was impressed. I like him, especially his concern about property taxes because this is the place we want to die,” said Laurie Lowther

Brad Michelsen, who brought his family of five children to Boundary County from Priest River 15 years ago, said “I was encouraged to see someone step up and run and discuss the issues.” He expressed his disappointment, though, with “voters who don’t take time to research and find out who is actually going to be their advocate instead of advocating for special interests and themselves.”

Janis Jessup earlier stated that she and her husband, Jerry, “have only lived here 12 years, but we moved into an awesome community. Now things area changing with groups and organizations coming in and slamming the rural areas.”

General discussion followed her comments with some fearful that certain groups and individuals like Johnson’s opponent want Idaho to be a “sovereign state.” One attendee tried to reassure the group saying that “a sovereign state can’t make its own rules.”

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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