Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Christian N. Johnson
Christian Johnson is running for the Ohio Senate because she agrees with The Matriots that “not to act is to act.” Christian is a business owner, educator, and above all, a strong woman who is running to bring awareness and practical, but most importantly, solution-based remedies to a broken, divisive and outdated system. Fueled by experiencing inequalities, firsthand, due to this system, Christian wants to use her experience to challenge the government to function effectively for every day, hardworking residents. Johnson wants to be an example to young women everywhere that have not considered running for office. If elected, she will introduce legislation such as paid leave, expanded access to healthcare, support for women and minority-owned small businesses, and full funding for public education.
Meet the Candidate: Christian N. Johnson
1) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office. Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate? I would love a catchphrase to be attached to my name, like Substitute Teacher turned State Senator. Not that my story is extremely unique to any other woman who runs for office, but I simply saw a need and decided that I would step up to the plate and take a swing at fighting for change. I had just taken a leap of faith and quit my job in 2018 to fully start my own small business. In the interim, I went back to substitute teaching to supplement income. While back in the school system I noticed a lot had changed since I graduated 10 years prior, and not for the better. There was a huge disconnect between leadership, teachers, students, parents and the community. The disconnect was so blaring I was surprised it had gone on so long. By July 2019 I was a substitute teacher, a mentor, an in-home instructor, and the co-founder of a minority parent organization for the school district. In all of those rolls, there was an outcry for change. Seeing my passion for the district, it was suggested to me to run for school board. After much hesitation, prayer and persuasion, I decided to run. It was a great race. I believe for the first time in a while, the community was excited about change. However, after coming up short by 118,I thought that I had a good run in politics, but needed to find another way to be effective. Well, not even a day after the election of 2019, I was asked if I ever thought about running for State Senate. I mean I knew I still wanted to see changes made within the school district and to ensure people, all people, were are able to feel safe, respected and celebrated for who they are, but I had never considered politics being the avenue in which I served people. Yet, realizing I could raise awareness, and effect change surrounding these issues on a greater level, I answered the call and decided to run.
2) Many of you cited a specific person whose strength was an inspiration to you. Can you tell me about a woman who has had a big influence on your life and inspired you to become a leader? What lessons did she teach you? My mama!! If you were to ask my mom if she considered herself a leader, she would probably say no. However, if you were to meet my brother, sister or I, you would have to disagree. She may not have led large groups of people, but she instilled in all three of the ingredients needed to produce great leaders. And all she had to do was be herself. My mom has a heart of gold, so naturally from that flowed empathy, gentleness, and kindness. But let me be clear, she did and still does not play about her children. We’ve had a front row seat on how to stand up to people and situations that were not fair or appropriate. She has always been relentless when it comes to providing for her family. Where most moms take the lemons of life and make lemonade, my mom took those lemons and made 7-Up Pound cake (and it’s good)! She never stops asking hard questions and she is unapologetic in who she is. My mom didn’t have to be a leader in order for me to learn from her on how to be one. She just had to be herself and constantly encourage me to be the same. Be bold. Be authentic. Be humble. Be able to pivot. Be Christian!
3) Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and a leader There is always the age old question: Are people born to be leaders, or can you teach someone to be a leader? In my case, I humbly believe I was born to be a leader and all of my life experiences thus far have strengthened my God-given ability. From being the oldest by 9 years, to being president of various organizations in high school, to now the owner of my own small business, I have always had the special ability of knowing how and when to use this gift. How to lead from the front and the back. It takes a special type of humility to know when you need to rally the troops, and when you need to allow someone else to lead. How to speak and when to be silent. Being a leader constantly causes you to hold a mirror to your face and forces you ask the hard question: How can I be better? Leading people and starting a business teaches you perseverance and meekness. It strengthens your moral compass and capacity for patience. It takes a certain level of optimism and courage. Success as a leader first comes from realizing you are only as good as those whom you lead, yet, the effectiveness and strength of the group is a direct reflection of it’s leadership. It is all very cyclical. A great leader, an intergerous leader, understands their role in it all and doesn’t abuse its power. I know at the core I am a leader, but I am first a public servant.
4) The Matriots PAC has a bold goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028? I agree. I would also love for 50% of all elected offices to be held by women, but I also have a vision for these offices to be held by people of color. Younger people. People who have lived experiences which resemble the lives of those whom these elected officials would serve. I see a 2028 Ohio where education and health care is affordable and accessible to all Ohioans. Clean water and accessible broadband services are provided all across the state. Fair paying jobs and continued strides being made to combat racial injustice. I do not believe providing basic human rights is a far fetched vision, we just have to make sure we get the right people in power who also see and are committed to this vision.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community faces today
Education: We all believe children are the future, but how often do we invest in their lives right now? How often do we ask ourselves whether or not we’re doing our best to prepare them for what’s to come? I have experienced first hand that we are not asking these questions enough, in turn, unjustly damaging our future leaders. As an educator for over 8 years and a graduate of two Ohio schools, I have seen and experienced the lack of funding for student resources, teacher salaries, and college tuition. Over-extensive testing, lack of state and local control, and little to no accountability from lawmakers are also among the characteristics of a mismanaged school system. As we have seen with the budget balance during the pandemic, legislators first look to cut funding from an already underfunded education system, but this act is not isolated to this crisis. We can not properly prepare students to be successful citizens if the structure we are using to educate and prepare them is not properly equipped to do so.
Jobs/Economy/Wages: Right now, nearly 70% of new Ohio jobs pay poverty-level wages.Over the past few months, thousands of Ohioans have lost their jobs. And thousands more were in danger of losing everything after missing just one paycheck during the Stay-At-Home order. This points to a much larger problem within Ohio’s economic system. Families are not bringing home enough money to survive off of a minimum wage income working full time, let alone the ability to continually live should an emergency arise. With the constant rise in economy, and not an incremental increase of paid wages, today’s low-wage earners earn less per hour than their counterparts would have over 50 years ago. It is estimated that if the head of a 3-person household works full time at minimum wage in Ohio, that family will live $3500 below the poverty line. It is time to take a real look at how the state funds minimum wage, and come up with a solution which reflects that we are willing to take care of all residents ensuring every family in every neighborhood is given the resources they need to thrive and not just survive.
6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members. I am in the process of writing/ publishing a book!