Mark Johnson is sworn is as the State Representative for District 26.
Republican Mark Johnson made good on at least one promise when he went to Salem two years ago as state representative from District 52: that he would work on both sides of the aisle. That collaboration gets him high marks with many of his peers in Salem, and it’s just one reason the Hood River News is endorsing the incumbent in his bid to return for a second term in the state legislature.
Johnson, a 55-year-old Republican, is facing retired educator Peter Nordbye for the House seat that includes Hood River County, and parts of Multnomah and Clackamas counties. Because of their backgrounds, both candidates understand the importance of improving Oregon’s educational systems — which continues to garner most of the attention of lawmakers in Salem.
Johnson is a general contractor by trade, owning a small business for 25 years. He served on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the House Business and Labor Committee. He has the support of some of the state’s top business organizations, such as Associated Oregon Industries — and the money that goes along with them. His campaign finance transactions filed with the state of Oregon show cash contributions of more than $111,000 since last December. That fact gets the attention of some Democrats, who tout Nordbye’s campaign genre of accepting only donations up to $50 from local residents. (Not surprisingly, Nordbye’s financial transactions show about $13,000 in cash contributions since Dec. 2, 2011.)
Nordbye, who spent more than three decades as a teacher and administrator, should be applauded for his grassroots approach. But, at the same time, voters shouldn’t penalize Johnson because he recognizes the need — and has the knack — to raise money. Some of Johnson’s “handlers” from the Republican Party go out of their way to point out that he received a $500 cash donation from Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber. Johnson is nonplussed about the gift; he knows political affiliation can no longer be a barrier to progress.
Johnson will continue to be an advocate for Hood River County in Salem. He understands the need for quality education, as a standing member of the county school board since 2004 and as the co-chair of Oregon’s Higher Education Committee. He is familiar with budget processes — locally and statewide. He knows challenges small business owners face. He has shown an ability to work with political allies and opponents.
The Hood River News encourages voters to vote for Johnson as state representative for the 52nd District.