By Sarah Pridgeon
Tony Johnson of Rozet will run for election as House Representative at the upcoming elections, believing that what qualifies him for the position is his integrity and strong belief that the voice of the people should be heard.
“Nobody is being listened to. Government is doing what they want, when they want and not paying any attention to the people,” says Johnson of the motivation behind his decision to run.
“I would like to be somebody who could go up there and actually do what the people say they want done.”
Having worked as a real estate appraiser in northeast Wyoming for roughly 20 years, Johnson says, he has had plenty of opportunity for in-depth conversations. The general consensus, he notes, is that the government does not care what the public says.
“There’s a big disenfranchisement out there where people are giving up on government and I’m hoping to get in there and at least be one voice for sanity,” he explains.
What Johnson believes most qualifies him for the position is his integrity and backbone.
“I cannot be intimidated, I cannot be bought off and I will go up there and do the best I can to represent views, even if those views aren’t popular with the current administration, be they state or federal,” he says.
“I’m a business owner, but I can point numerous fingers to unscrupulous business owners who are very successful because of some of their very practices, so I don’t think that’s a good litmus test. Just because you’ve held office or you’re a business owner, it really has to come down to what’s in the heart – that’s where the integrity comes in.”
Johnson attended schools in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, graduating from Kelly Walsh High School in Casper. He spent four years as a military police officer in the Unites States Marine Corp., before returning to Gillette, selling and then appraisal real estate for 20 years.
The latter half of his time as a realtor and appraiser was spent running his own company, Ark Appraisal Company, along with wife, Karen.
“We closed that company down when the federal government started making some really stupid rules that made it a living nightmare to do my job,” he says.
Johnson currently works for American Welding and Gas in Gillette, where he describes himself as a “jack of all trades.” He is also an associate pastor at Calvary Community Church.
“That’s probably one of the parts that leads to believing I have integrity. Everybody can say it, but see how many people actually perform on it,” he says.
Johnson shares a story that he believes highlights his willingness to stick up for what’s right. Below the logo of his appraisal company, the words “Jesus is Lord” were written.
Receiving a call from a customer in Texas who asked that these words be removed and threatened to cease business if they were not, Johnson says he refused to cave in to the demand. Losing the business, he adds, equated to about $2000 per month.
“We have conviction, my wife and I. We do stand up for what we believe in – even if it costs us,” he says.
Johnson has held no previous political positions, he says, although he has founded a group within his church called Compass Ministry that focuses on evangelism and outreach.
“As far as public offices, I have not been selected though I have put my name in the ring on a couple of occasions,” he says, noting he was recently on the shortlist to replace Sue Wallis as House Representative.
Should he be elected, Johnson’s primary focus will be to pursue the goal of isolating Wyoming from the federal government.
“I think that’s absolutely critical for more than just one reason. I believe that the federal government is irrevocably broken and cannot be fixed, leastwise not through sending people to Washington,” he explains.
“I think the only way it’s going to get fixed is by correcting the states.”
Johnson believes that the best way to do this will be to encourage Wyoming to exercise its Tenth Amendment rights and balance its finances.
“Unfortunately, the golden rule applies: he who has the gold rules. Right now, the feds have the gold and they’re ruling but, if the states start asserting their rights and taking control of their own resources, their chokehold on the rest of America will start to diminish, especially as the rest of the states follow suit,” Johnson says.
A second key issue for Johnson is to “protect and re-establish our Founding Fathers’ vision for the United States.” Part of that vision, he says, goes straight to Christianity, so he would like to see prayer allowed back in schools and honor given to “the One who has given us everything.”
“I would like to see faith allowed back into the public circle because right now it’s being systematically removed,” he says.
He would also like to see movement towards the implementation of Common Core standards halted and a more robust education system in its place. The money, he says, should follow the students.
“Wherever the kids go, whether it’s a home, church, public or private school, finances should follow. That way, the parents have complete oversight over where their kids go,” Johnson elaborates.
“By doing that, it brings in a free market-type status into the education world and parents will send their kids where they get the best education, wherever that may be, and let the chips fall where they may.”
Getting back to the Constitution, says Johnson, would mean shrinking even our state government from its current status.
“As we shrink the government, we can reduce the amount of taxes that the government needs and in return we can funnel that back to the people. It’s something I would like to see worked towards,” he says.
“I would absolutely not support any new taxes whatsoever, period. Until our governments can show that they can spend their money responsibly then they don’t get even one more cent, at least not with my vote.”
Johnson encourages members of the public to contact him via phone on 307-680-4590 or by email at [email protected]. Please leave a message if he is unable to answer your call, he says, and he will make sure to get back to you.