July 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Election2004 - Johnson: Politics: Algona Upper Des Moines: Congressional hopeful RPCV Paul Johnson campaigns in Algona

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By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 4:18 pm: Edit Post

Congressional hopeful RPCV Paul Johnson campaigns in Algona

Congressional hopeful RPCV Paul Johnson campaigns in Algona

Congressional hopeful RPCV Paul Johnson campaigns in Algona

Congressional hopeful Johnson campaigns in Algona

By Jeff Robinson, Editor July 01, 2004
Democratic Congressional hopeful Paul Johnson of Decorah spoke to a small contingent of prospective voters on Monday, June 28, in the Algona home of Bill and Colleen Farnham.

Johnson is seeking Iowa's 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is challenging incumbent Tom Latham.

"I'm applying for a job and I'm interviewing over the next few months and (the voters are) going to hire someone to represent them," Johnson said. "The people of this district have a right and an opportunity to change course and elect somebody else of their choosing.

"This campaign is about what people want. It is as much their future as it is mine. It shouldn't be a campaign about Tom Latham or about Paul Johnson, but about where the people of this district want to be two years from now."

Since 1974, Johnson's family has owned and operated Oneota Slopes Farm near Decorah. The varied operation has featured dairy, corn, soybeans, hay, beef cattle, sheep, and Christmas trees.

Away from the farm Johnson served in the Iowa State Legislature from 1984-1990. During his three terms as a legislator, he co-authored the 1987 Groundwater Protection Act, the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act (REAP) in 1989, and the Iowa Energy Act in 1990. Additionally, he served as chief of the Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, at the United States Department of Agriculture from 1993-97. Notable among the many awards he received during his public service career was the Hugh Hammond Bennett Conservation Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America.

Johnson said he was motivated to challenge Latham because he is dissatisfied with the country's Republican leadership on a number of issues including the climbing deficit, the health insurance crisis, and the war in Iraq to name a few.

"The simplest way to put it is that I think Iowans and Americans are probably better than our leaders today in that there are so many issues where we feel we really ought to be solving problems and it doesn't seem like the people in Washington are willing to do so, from the President right on through Congress," Johnson said.

Johnson, a former Peace Corps volunteer and teacher, faults the Bush presidency for mishandling the war in Iraq and misleading the nation as to the reasons for going to war. Johnson said that in addition to cleaning up our act on an international level, he believes there are many national issues in desperate need of attention. As a lifelong conservationist - he was director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from 1999-2000 - and farmer, he feels that by following provisions authored by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the 2002 Farm Bill, the country can make tremendous strides in its agricultural policies.

"This district, if you could define it in one word, it would be capital L-A-N-D, we are land," Johnson said. "It's the most wonderful land on earth.

"(When it comes to) making sure that the water that comes off the farms is really clean and pure, and that there's wildlife habitat out there, and that air quality is good, I honestly believe we can have all of these things if, as a nation, we set our minds to it, and we put together good research and good rewards systems to landowners.

"If Congress did what they said they were going to do and fully funded this program, I would guess that there would be $100 million a year that would be coming into this district. And when you give farmers $100 million for doing good work they don't invest that in some Chinese company, they invest it on Main Street. ... We're all suffering from the fact that Congress hasn't funded this the way they promised."

Johnson sees room for future growth in niche markets for grain and livestock that is raised in a way that appeals to consumers. He also sees potential for growth in the Iowa economy through alternative bio-based fuels and wind-generated energy. But he also feels the current government's priorities are more focused toward helping the rich get richer and toward fighting the war in Iraq than they are on domestic issues.

"This comes right back to 'guns or butter,'" he said. "Essentially, do we want to pay farmers for the good stewardship that they do, which in turn will then also stimulate economies in our rural communities and this district? Or do we want the alternative that we now have? That's what this election is really about."

©Algona Upper Des Moines 2004

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Story Source: Algona Upper Des Moines

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