ELKO – Outgoing Mayor Chris Johnson announced his candidacy for the Nevada Assembly Wednesday, facing incumbent Republican John Ellison.
“I’m enthusiastic to be able to have the opportunity and chance to serve at the state level,” Johnson said at a Feb. 7 press conference at City Hall.
Johnson cited his combined experience as mayor, a business owner and Elko resident to represent District 33 in the Legislature, which includes Elko, Eureka and White Pine counties.
“I know I would be a great candidate for that office and [it would be] just another chance to serve the people of Nevada,” Johnson said.
He explained that he was not familiar with Ellison’s voting record, but said he was sure the main issues would “be brought to the forefront” during the campaign.
“My goal is not what the incumbent has voted in the past. In fact, I think on a lot of issues, we would probably agree on.”
Johnson is expected to face Ellison in the Republican primary on June 12. Ellison was elected in 2010, succeeding John Carpenter, who reached his term limit.
Johnson said “strong representation” was needed for rural areas and their resource-based economies.
“This area is definitely the biggest area, probably in the world, for gold production,” Johnson said, adding his experience in mining, agriculture and wildlife game hunting would be valuable if elected to the Assembly.
“I see the multiple-use of public lands is key,” he said.
Johnson was a supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign for president, and noted they share the same background as business owners.
“Trump obviously, with the appointments of the different heads of the departments, is making an impact to the state of Nevada, with the BLM and the EPA,” Johnson said Wednesday. “The thing that I’ve liked about Trump is that he comes from a business aspect.”
Johnson has owned and operated Charles H. Chester Plumbing Inc. for 30 years.
In representing rural Nevada, Johnson said he would look at financial formulas, specifically secondary calculations that he said have brought less property tax income to Sparks, and the needs of northeastern Nevada, including Great Basin College.
“I think as a representative of rural Nevada that I could bring the issues to the forefront and give District 33 a good representation.”
Johnson has served on the Elko County Planning Commission, two terms as a city councilman, and was elected mayor in 2011, winning re-election in 2014. He terms out of city office this year.
As mayor, Johnson said the support of the city council and staff allowed them to “work as a team,” pointing to additional street funding, the revitalization of downtown, and the completion of the new Elko Police Department building as highlights of the past eight years.
Johnson said he plans to file for the seat in March with full support of his wife, Lorrie, with whom he has three children.
Johnson said he plans to attend the Lincoln Day Dinner Feb. 9 at the Boys and Girls Club and be available for questions at the event.
Filing for all city, county and state candidates is March 5-16.