10th District candidate Johnson: End the partisan squabbles

Posted: October 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Unhappy with the direction of state politics, Monte Johnson decided to run as a Democrat for the 10th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

He will face Republican incumbent Randy Minchew in the Nov. 5 election.

“I think the state has been really going in the wrong direction,” said Johnson, 32. “I think we’re defined by the wrong things. I think when you hear about Virginia in the news, it’s about partisan games, and it’s about attacking women’s rights. Those types of issues divide our community, so I think we need to switch the focus.

“We need more moderates. I feel like my opponent tends to side with the extreme tea party faction, and that’s something we don’t need here. I think this district is much more of a moderate district.”

The 10th District includes parts of Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun counties.

Johnson, who lives in the Loudoun County community of Brambleton, would prefer that Virginia be known for its strengths in education, business and technology.

To that end, he would like to see education encouraged in the areas of health care and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“Making sure our kids are positioned for the jobs that are going to be there 10, 15 years from now,” he said. “If we have the curriculum, we can not only have people that can get those jobs, but we can keep those jobs in the state.”

As a project manager for Booz Allen Hamilton, Johnson has seen the effects of not having a large enough skilled workforce. He said one of his information technology projects was near Stephens City.

“They had a hard time staffing it,” Johnson said. “If that wasn’t the case, there’s a lot of opportunity out in Frederick County, Clarke County.”

A lifelong Virginian, Johnson is the product of public schools.

“We’ve got to offer a quality education, and [students] have got to be able to compete with their national and global peers, and if they’re not doing that, we’re failing them,” he said.

Johnson supports the governor’s transportation package passed this year.

“I think the key now is to make sure we pick the right projects to maximize our tax dollar,” he said.

Easing congestion for the many commuters in the district is also a quality of life issue, Johnson said.

He said he fully supports the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia, calling it a unique opportunity that could bring 23,000 jobs to the state.

“We can even drop people’s premiums because we will be able to cover more Virginians,” Johnson said. “Being a project manager, I’m big on efficiency, and we have to make sure that the system’s successful. I will be very interested to see what [the state’s Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission’s] findings are.”

While he feels that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is “far from perfect,” he believes the spirit behind it is beneficial.

“I think the big thing now is if we’re going to make changes — because it’s the law of the land — I think we should try to fix it,” Johnson said. “We need to make it work for us.”

He also feels strongly about women’s health issues.

“People’s viewpoints on these issues are different,” Johnson said. “Obviously, it’s very polarizing. For example, attacking access to birth control, that’s a very extreme step.”

Some of his passion comes from the fact his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer after being screened at a health clinic.

She had been aware that something was wrong but could not afford to do anything about it right away, according to Johnson. He said it has been 11 years since her last surgery.

While Johnson did not grow up with political aspirations, his parents predicted that he would eventually move into politics.

“I was surprised, but it kind of motivated me a lot,” he said. “It meant a lot for my parents to say that.”

Johnson was a member of the Young Democrats at the College of William & Mary, and the Loudoun County Democrats. He also performed volunteer work for Obama’s campaign, and was a delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Among groups endorsing Johnson are: Virginia Professional Firefighters; National Organization for Women-Virginia; NARAL Virginia (a pro-choice group); Virginia AFL-CIO; Service Employees International Union Local 512; Women’s Strike Force; LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Democrats of Virginia; and Progressive Majority, according to his website, monteforvirginia.com.

— Contact Sally Voth atsvoth@winchesterstar.com