By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Brad Johnson said Wednesday his extensive experience in agriculture, small business and information technology would make him very effective if he is elected Montana secretary of state. So will his experience in politics, he said.
"My 35 years of involvement in the political process, I think, is going to be a real asset," he said.
Republican Johnson is running for the seat Secretary of State Bob Brown will vacate next year. Brown, also a Republican, is running for governor.
Johnson stopped in Havre Wednesday as part of his second campaign tour of the state. He said he left Bozeman Monday on a tour that included Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, and Glasgow. He was headed to Fort Benton and Great Falls today.
The campaign in January was spent on the road, he added.
Republican Todd O'Hair, a natural resource policy adviser to Gov. Judy Martz, is also seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state.
The secretary of state can be instrumental in changing and improving operations of government activities, including areas not directly connected to the office, Johnson said. His abilities will help with that, he added.
"I think that over the course of my career I have been a consensus builder, not afraid to foster change," he said. "The worst reason to continue a particular practice is because we've always done it that way."
Johnson, a native of Lake Forest, Ill., received a master's degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois in 1976 and moved to Bozeman in 1980. He immediately became involved in Montana and Gallatin County Republican politics.
He served on the Montana Republican Party Executive Board from 1984-1989 and was reappointed to that board in 2003.
Johnson was district representative for U.S. Rep. Ron Marlenee, R-Mont., in 1983 and 1984, managing Marlenee's Billings office and serving as liason to government agencies and the news media.
He ran an unsuccessful campaign against Montana Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., in 1990, and ran unsuccessfully against incumbent U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., in the 2002 primary.
The secretary of state has three main duties, he said: acting as chief election officer, acting as official record-keeper for the state including registering corporate, small business and non-profit filings, and acting as a voting member of the Montana Land Board, which oversees management of Montana state lands.
Much of the work of the secretary of state is to improve the processes used in the secretary's office, and his experience working at land-grant universities and other jobs will help him do that job, Johnson said.
"There are things on the technological side we can do to improve efficiency, and on the business side of the office," he said.
Johnson said he has been a strong and vocal supporter of responsible development of resources, which he would apply to the secretary of state's position on the Land Board.
He also said he wants to get the state more involved in administering federal land in Montana, which could improve efficiency in management and get better results for the state.
"The bottom line is we are the ones that are directly impacted by management decisions for national forests and (Bureau of Land Management) lands," Johnson said. "We ought to have more input on those decisions than we have today."
Johnson said that as secretary of state he would try to increase participation in the Montana election process.