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Interview: Eric Johnson, Candidate for Texas House District 100

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By Shawn Williams – Dallas South News Editor

Political newcomer Eric Johnson took the time to participate in Dallas South News’ first interview, discussing his bid to represent District 100 in the Texas House of Representatives.  Johnson’s opponent in the March Democratic Primary is incumbent Terri Hodge.

Johnson has hit the ground running, raising $60,000 for his campaign in June.  The district Johnson hopes to represent stretches from East Dallas, into parts of Southeast Dallas,  through downtown, and into West Dallas.

Dallas South News:  Although you have been involved in politics for years, this is your first run for office.  Why now and why Texas House 100?

Eric Johnson: I was born and raised in District 100, and I still live and work here today.  I understand the challenges facing our neighborhoods in a way that only someone who grew up in and around District 100 can.

District 100 needs a strong representative in Austin who will work tirelessly to improve our public schools, bring jobs to the district, and help make our neighborhoods safer.  I’ve spoken to countless District 100 residents who were energized by the election of Barack Obama and are ready for change.

DSN:  How do you respond to claims that you lack the experience necessary to serve citizens of Dallas at the state level?

EJ:  I have the right combination of experience with the legislative process in Austin and with first-hand experience in our schools and our community to serve the people of District 100.  My family has lived in District 100 for three generations, so I know the district thoroughly.

I am uniquely well-prepared to represent District 100’s interests in Austin, having worked for a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives and having also earned a graduate degree in public policy.

Additionally, I have worked very hard to bring about positive change in District 100 through years of service on the boards of organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and Educational Opportunities, Inc. in addition to the many hours I have spent mentoring youth at various Dallas ISD schools in and around District 100.

DSN:  You and your wife Nakita were big supporters of Barack Obama’s presidential bid.  What did you learn from President Obama’s campaign that you can carry into your own race?

EJ: Nakita and I are very proud of the fact that we were early supporters of President Obama.  We were fortunate enough both to serve on the host committees that brought President Obama to Dallas twice, once in April 2007 and again in July 2007, and also to canvass in District 100 for President Obama’s first national “Walk for Change.”

President Obama, Nakita and Eric Johnson

One of the things Nakita and I remember most about President Obama’s first visit to Dallas is how few people believed he could win the Democratic nomination at that point; in fact, the only local elected officials who were publicly supporting him at that time were Rafael Anchia and Ron Kirk.

Like President Obama, I am running a full-fledged grassroots campaign and not taking any votes for granted.  Almost every day I eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner with voters in the district, listening to their concerns about public education, economic development, and public safety.  Our President also inspired a number of eligible voters to register for the first time, and I’m hoping they’ll return to the polls in March. All politics are local, and I believe the time for change has arrived in District 100. Yes We Can!

DSN:  Tell us about some of the things that you would bring to District 100 if elect to represent the people who live there.

EJ: It all starts with educating our neighbors. Every child deserves a quality education from a great public school. This educated workforce, in turn, will help us attract new businesses to our district to provide us with not just jobs but careers.

When people are hopeful and fully employed, they don’t engage in the crime or drug abuse that has dogged District 100 for years. These are my top priorities to help stimulate economic growth and improve the health and safety of our neighborhoods.

DSN:  What are the unique challenges and opportunities faced in Texas 100 compared to other Dallas House Districts?

EJ: The need for economic opportunity in District 100 cannot be overstated.  District 100 suffers from a lack of development that is much worse than in other parts of Dallas. We must give our children a great education, provide them with job opportunities, and keep them safe so that they can go as far as they dream in life.

DSN  Your opponent, incumbent Representative Terri Hodge, has been surrounded by legal troubles as of late.  How does that affect your campaign against her?

EJ: I’m running to represent the people of my home district. District 100 and its residents urgently need an honest and hardworking leader who is willing to listen to, partner with, and speak up for them in Austin in order to achieve great results.  I hope to be that leader.

DSN:  What are the biggest challenges that you feel are facing the State of Texas?

EJ: District 100 offers a snapshot of some of our state’s biggest challenges.  Our minority population is growing rapidly and soon the majority of our state’s residents will be minorities, yet minorities consistently lag behind our white counterparts in most measures of educational success, which obviously affects our future income and even our health.

DSN: How can District 100 residents find out more about your campaign?

EJ:  To find out more about my campaign and get involved, please visit JohnsonForTexas.com. I look forward to representing the residents of District 100 in Austin.

DSN:  Eric thanks for taking time to be Dallas South News’ first interview subject.

EJ: Thanks to you and your readers.

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