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Willard council president to run in 57th district

By JOE CENTERS • Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 PM

James Johnson is hoping he can make a difference.

Forget about what party you are in and get things done, he said.

Johnson, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Dick Stein to represent the state House of Representatives 57th district.

Stein is in his first term as state lawmaker, having defeated then-Democrat Tom Dunlap in November 2016 to gain the seat. 

“I believe that a representative should be willing to work with everybody regardless of party,” said Johnson, president of Willard city council. “That’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’ve done all my life. I’ve beeen helping others get what they need and what they want. That’s what I can bring to the table.

“I find is very frustrating when it is announced that the Republicans or Democrats have introduced house bill No. 3. It should just be a house bill. It should just be how it can affect and help people in the state of Ohio, Huron County or the country. It is not about winning and losing. It’s about helping people.”

Johnson, a 1992 graduate of Youngstown State University with a degree in marketing management, has worked in retail for 30 years — the last five as store manager for Tractor Supply Co. in Willard.

‘With my background in retail one of the nice things is every day is different,” he said. 

How about his time on city council?

“It has given me a little background on how the government actually works,” Johnson said. “(In) business life you can make a decision and see the effects over night. In government, everything has to be very exact and very precise. It’s been a great learning lesson and will help me.”

Johnson said he knows there is a lot of work ahead of him. The 57th district covers Huron County and parts of Lorain County.

“The more things I do the more excited I get about it,” he said. “When you talk to people and they just say ‘thanks for standing up and we apprecite you running’ — it’s an adrenalin rush.”

Stein, of Norwalk, said he is ready to get started with his re-election.

“I’ve filed my petitions,” Stein said. “I’ve learned a lot the first 14 months. I am fortunate enough to be on five committees — education, agriculture, commerce and labor, energy and natural resources and the most recent when I was asked to take over a term on the PUCO committee.

“I have a fairly full plate. I also was fortunate to introduce five pieces of legislation.”

Stein said the second time around should be easier come election time.

“I have a lot more contacts and associations in both counties,” he said. “I find this a little easier the second time.”

How about having to run every two years?

“It’s the way it was set up,” he said. “You have to agree to their terms and that is one of their terms.”

Prior to Stein, Republican Terry Boose served as a state representative for eight years before reaching his term limit. Boose currently is a Huron County commissioner.

Dunlap, meanwhile, is now Republican who has filed to run again Democratic incumbent Roland Tkach in the Huron County auditor’s race.

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