Gregory Johnson jumped in at the last minute for the race for Oregon House District 49 after the first Republican candidate dropped out. Johnson is seeking to replace Chris Gorsek, who has thrown his hat in the ring for the Senate seat held by the retiring Sen. Laurie Monnes-Anderson.
Yet despite his eleventh-hour decision to run, Johnson has lots of ideas about how to serve the East Multnomah County district, particularly where the economy is concerned.
"We're going to be headed into quite a recession here," following the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent forest fires, Johnson said.
"The small business community is really going to be hurting. They already are," he said.
"I feel I can manage money pretty good and we have to manage the tax money better," the 69-year-old Johnson said.
Another priority is law enforcement.
"We need their help," he said.
If problems pop up "we need to look at additional training," he said.
"We need to have the best trained and best equipped people around" in law enforcement, he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great disruption worldwide and already killed more than 520 Oregonians.
Johnson thinks restrictions should be cautiously eased surrounding COVID-19.
"We should open things up more," he said.
If someone comes down with COVID-19, "we should get them immediate medical attention and if anyone is spreading it, they need to quarantine," he said.
"We need to take this seriously…but people have to live their lives," he added.
The Troutdale resident retired after 25 years with the Boeing Company as a tool engineer. He's been married 49 years and has three adult children. He's lived in Troutdale since 1997.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Johnson grew up in Iowa and graduated from Mason City High School. He received an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology from the Hawkeye Institute of Technology, in Waterloo.
Johnson has served as a Republican precinct committee person, but acknowledges he does not have extensive experience in government.
District 49 spans Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village and parts of Gresham and Portland. It has been represented by Chris Gorsek, who is running for the Oregon Senate.
Johnson is running against Democrat Zach Hudson, a Troutdale City Councilor and special education math teacher at Reynolds High School. Joe Demers had been pursuing the District 49 seat as the Republican candidate, but decided to pivot to run for mayor of Gresham instead.
If elected, Johnson plans to have many town hall-type meetings with constituents.
"By listening to people, I'll have more information to make wise decisions," he said.
Johnson thinks his experience as a tool designer is perfect for the legislature.
"As an tool engineer, you have to satisfy a bunch of different people and you never really please any of them. I've got the idea that being in the legislature will be a lot like that."
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