Lewiston’s Mayor-elect Dan Johnson strategize’s for new term

Mayor-elect+Dan+Johnson+interviews+with+The+Bengal%E2%80%99s+Purr+Dec.+14+in+the+LHS+video+studio.+Image+courtesy+of+Rylee+Wimer.

Mayor-elect Dan Johnson interviews with The Bengal’s Purr Dec. 14 in the LHS video studio. Image courtesy of Rylee Wimer.

Seyi Arogundade, Features Assistant

Idaho senator and newly elected mayor Dan Johnson came to talk with The Bengal’s Purr on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Along with sharing his insights as a Senator, he discussed what Lewiston voted for when they vied for a “strong mayor,” and how he plans to improve the city.

Johnson has lived in Idaho for roughly 30 years, previously living in Wyoming. He went to the University of Idaho for his college career and has lived in Lewiston since 2001.

He was inspired to become a politician by watching political races when he was younger, and was also inspired by former President Ronald W. Reagan and his actions during the Iran contract. After Reagan was sworn in and negotiated for the release of 444 American prisoners in Iran, Johnson was struck by the political power and influence these elected positions could carry.

Even during his time in college, he was told to question authority and learn from those questions.

“There was just a hunger (in me)…that developed over time,” he said.

Johnson described how Lewiston’s new “strong mayor” differs from the previous city structure. A “strong mayor” is one whom the people vote for instead of the sitting city councilors, he said. The mayor now has more authority. Preparing for his term to start in 2022, Johnson hopes to elicit some change within the city. These changes include listening more to the people, providing more accountability and allowing more action.

“A city government is really a service organization,” he said.

Before running for mayor, Johnson had some concerns for the city. Then local business people approached him to run for mayor, and through a six-month process, he took on the challenge.

One of his goals for his term in office is restructuring the city council to run more efficiently and effectively. His main concern is listening to the people of Lewiston to learn how he can best help.

Another goal is to fix some of the infrastructure downtown, make more investments in businesses in that area, and improve the streets and roads. Johnson and the council will also look at the top issue, the city budget. He wants to keep the property taxes down, potentially lowering them. He said this could be done by bringing businesses back into Lewiston to help boost the local economy.

Johnson also touched on issues surrounding COVID-19. He expressed how the pandemic has been difficult for Lewiston and the entire nation. He noted uncertainty but mentioned the need to be conscious about social and hygienic practices in order to control potential health risks. He also mentioned that there is still “a lot to learn” about this pandemic.

According to Lewiston Tribune, Robert Blair may take over for Johnson for the rest of his term as senator. Initially, Johnson thought he would do both jobs part-time through the Spring. However, the ceremony for the mayor-elect will be on Jan. 10, conflicting with the Idaho State of the State and Budget address. With this, he decided to have a full-time substitute for the session.

Johnson also elaborated on some of the things he likes to do outside of politics. He enjoys traveling and visiting his children and grandchildren around the country. He also visits other countries to observe and learn from them, including Central America.

Johnson’s advice for people looking to run for elected positions is to consider some participating in form of service. Whether in the state legislature, the school board or a church, he encouraged people to develop a “servant’s heart,” noting that everyone has something to contribute and learn.

The decision to serve is an independent and personal one, he added. If someone wants to run for public office, it should be based on their passion for the work. He also mentioned not to back down, regardless of who is running.

He encouraged young people to find something that they are passionate about and enjoy doing.

“There’s a lot of growth that comes from that…everyone has something to contribute,” Johnson said.