MONTE VISTA—Mike Johnston, who is seeking the democratic party’s nomination for governor stopped in Monte Vista on Labor Day.
Johnston is a former state senator for Colorado’s 33rd senate district. After attending college and law school he became a public school teacher in one of Mississippi’s most impoverished school districts. He then served as a principal at a juvenile detention center and at a high-needs district in the Denver area. Johnston also served as one of President Obama’s key advisers on education issues.
Johnson explained that it was his time in education that motivated him to enter politics. He witnessed first hand the pain that students known as “dreamers” might encounter upon graduating from high school or upon attempting to enter the workforce when he learned that one of his students was undocumented and wouldn’t be able to attend college at an affordable price because of his status.
"That is the day I decided to run for the state senate because I felt there wasn’t anything else I could do at the school level,” said Johnston.
Johnston prides himself on having been able to build bridges with members of the Republican Party to pass legislation such as Colorado’s Dream Act.
It is this type of bipartisan spirit he hopes to bring to the governor’s mansion. Johnston says he believes in Colorado’s “frontier spirit” and that through hard work, opportunity should be available to all.
Johnston addressed the biggest issues he believes are facing Colorado. “We need to make sure we have an economy that’s working for everybody. We need to ensure there’s growth in every part of Colorado such as here in southern Colorado and in the eastern plains. We need to ensure everyone has healthcare. We also need to solve our transportation and infrastructure needs. I have a plan to help people access free community college or skill training for two years to make sure they have the skills they need for the jobs that are coming. We’re going to have to make some key investments around the state in regards to education and infrastructure,” said Johnston.
He also shared his ideas to help rural Colorado. “We need to make sure we can support well-paying jobs in these small towns. A lot of people feel if they want a well-paying job they have to leave to Denver or Boulder, but they actually want to stay in the communities where they grew up. I think there are three keys to solving that issue. One is making sure we have high quality broadband access in all parts of the state. The second is tax incentives to help businesses move to these rural parts of the state or to keep growing here. I started a plan called Jumpstart which is legislation that encourages businesses to grow in places like Monte Vista. The third is making sure citizens have the skills they need to be successful. That’s why I’m focusing on the ‘Colorado Promise’ idea which gives access to job training,” he said.
The protection of water is something Johnston says he feels is really important as one of Colorado’s best non-renewable resources. “That means keeping water in the basin where it originates. We should provide incentives for people to conserve water. Right now people who try to conserve water are penalized for it. We want to find ways to support them instead,” said Johnston.
Johnston says he feels he is the best candidate for the democratic party’s nomination because he has a big vision for where the state can go. “I can inspire people to work on that vision. I have the track record of actually getting people from both sides of the aisle to work together to get things done. Of the bills that I’ve helped get signed into law 90 percent of them have republican co-sponsors …I think this is a moment where people want to see us working together.”