Administrating for change

Johnson runs for county commissioner


Photo by: Nicole Konopelko

Jobs for American Graduates teacher Jeremy Johnson speaks during a meet and greet at Root Coffeehouse, organized by the PHS Equality Club.

Story by Joy Lee

At day, Jeremy Johnson is a Jobs for American Graduates teacher and mentor to his students. At night, he’s a candidate campaigning for the Crawford County Commission.

Teaching JAG for the past two years and Pittsburg’s mayor since January, has provided Johnson “first-hand experience” on what makes a community successful.

“Politics, civic engagement and community engagement are passions of mine,” Johnson said. “My motivation has always been [how] I care very much about the community. I love Pittsburg and southeast Kansas and I want to see it do well. If you want to see a place made better, you have to step up and do it.”

Running for County Commissioner, he hopes to expand his accomplishments with Pittsburg to the county level.

“How do we make those good things, that honestly, not just people in Pittsburg deserve, but people everywhere?” Johnson said. “That’s where my big picture thinking comes in, I want to see that replicated for as many people possible.”

Johnson also wants to implement a housing department in Crawford County.

“The county does not have a housing department. The city of Pittsburg does. Homelessness doesn’t simply affect people in Pittsburg,” Johnson said. “My thinking is how do we leverage existing resources, whether in creating a seperate body or expanding what the city of Pittsburg is able to address issues everywhere, in the county and not just here in our little corner of it.”

Another goal of Johnson’s is to make internet more accessible to county residents.

“[Internet access] has implications beyond [the] ability to check email, that limits people to not be able to work at home,” Johnson said. “If you have a business or are interested in opening a business, you’re going to need access to internet. That poses a serious problem both personally, but also economically.”

Another reason Johnson decided to run was because he wants to give a voice to the people.

“One of the things I like about being a politician is I’m good at interacting with people, I’m a good listener,” Johnson said. “I want to hear people’s concerns and I want to make sure people have a voice. Not just someone who is going to listen to you, but someone who is going to make decisions based on information, facts and data.”

Specifically, Johnson wants to focus on younger people.

“I want to talk to students about their concerns because, very clearly, I think young people have a lot of concerns and a lot of them are not necessarily on the radar of your typical constituents,” Johnson said.

The PHS Equality Club sponsored a candidate forum at Root Coffeehouse with Johnson on Oct. 16. Johnson discussed his plans for office and answered questions from local students.  Equality Club officers Ximena Ibarra, Haylee Valley and Elle Burgess organized the event.

“I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while, since last year,” Ibarra said. “But we’ve never really had anyone, any candidate reach out to us until Jeremy Johnson and I started talking with him because he would come to our meetings too and he would help host them when sponsors couldn’t come.”

Johnson’s students are proud of his decision to run for County Commissioner. Senior Brianne Norman, a first year student of Johnson’s, supports.

“I feel like the students, not just in JAG, but students in general, should put as much effort into our teachers as they put into us,” Norman said.

According to Norman, Johnson is different from other elected officials in office.

“I feel like Mr. Johnson cares about people’s opinions,” Norman said. “He cares about how people feel. He knows what it’s like to be the smaller man, and also be the bigger one.”