Julie Johnson: Leading the "blue wave" of Texas
Julie Johnson has taken North Texas by storm with a mission to dethrone Republican State Representative Matt Rinaldi, the elected official infamous for threatening to shoot a fellow representative, in House District 115. Johnson, a lawyer and first-time candidate, prides herself on protecting and representing communities facing significant problems. Specifically, Johnson advocates on behalf of students, both in her legal profession and political campaign. As a lawyer, she has represented upwards of 350 students at one time in a legal case against a money-hungry for-profit college. Additionally, Johnson’s campaign platform focuses on legislation affecting public education, including refunding and appropriation of necessary resources for students across the country. Johnson also hopes to impact infrastructural changes in North Texas to accommodate the ever-growing population in the area.
Johnson was born in Kansas City, Kansas but grew up in various places across the country including Houston, Texas and Auburn, Alabama, where she graduated from high school. Johnson frequently moved around as a result of her parents who were constantly pursuing employment opportunities as educators. Johnson remarked that in each of the cities she lived in there were common values held by hard-working neighbors in the communities, including honesty, kindness, and treating others how they would want to be treated.
As the daughter of two teachers, Johnson had the value of education impressed upon her from a young age and realized that a solid education was essential for her success. In fact, Johnson’s first role model was her mother, who constantly pushed her children to sieze the gift of education at every opportunity. Johnson’s mother encouraged her and her sisters to be independent and to seek higher education, specifically in an attempt to break the societal cycle of women’s dependency on their spouses. Too many women from her mother’s generation worked or stayed at home while their husbands furthered their education and held higher paying jobs. Women during that time had fewer resources than their husbands and faced marital dependency for their well-being. It was Johnson’s mother who always advocated for her daughters to be well-educated, sharing with them that they should never be in a relationship because they have to but rather because they want to. Johnson has carried this independence with her as she has matured and grown older, advocating for gender equity in today’s educational systems.
Johnson was first exposed to politics as a child, watching national party conventions when they were televised. The first televised political event that she remembers in detail was the Ford – Carter Presidential race, which she followed while in middle school. Though she had always been interested in politics as a child, she didn’t begin her political journey until she grew older when she began volunteering and donating to various campaigns. Finally, after the 2016 Presidential election, Johnson felt a burning desire to serve her community in a greater capacity. It was the loss of Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate to receive a party nomination for a presidential race, that resonated with Johnson, showing her that she could see herself as the candidate rather than the supporter. She quickly filed to run for Texas House District 115 and began preparing her campaign. In March, Johnson won the Democratic primary and now awaits the general election which will take place in November.
If elected, Johnson hopes to transform education across the state. Her campaign platform proposes financial reform in education, placing additional necessary funds in school systems to provide students with more resources. She also hopes to reallocate funds to educators, putting monetary incentives into the profession to recruit and encourage the best and brightest teachers. Johnson also hopes to impact infrastructural change in North Texas as the region undergoes an ongoing population boom and plans to expand Medicare and Medicaid resources for Texans by eliminating the funnel of Texas tax dollars into federal healthcare reallocation programs.
Encompassed in Texas House District 115 are the cities of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, Irving, and, most notably, Farmers Branch, the municipality that allowed local law enforcement to enforce immigration and border security practices in 2017. TX-HD 115 is an ethnically diverse region and is home to a large population of Hispanic residents. During the last Texas Legislative Session, Representative Matt Rinaldi of TX-HD 115 called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain protestors on Capitol grounds, leading to a violent outpouring of emotion on the House floor. In response, Rinaldi threatened to shoot a fellow Representative in the parking lot. Johnson hopes to dethrone Rinaldi in the upcoming general election in November, in hopes of serving not only the constituents of TX-HD 115 but also Texas as a whole.
As a leader of the “blue wave” rolling through Texas, Johnson relies on a strategic support system that motivates her to campaign even in the face of partisan competition. On the campaign trail, Johnson has found a source of inspiration in speaking with voters directly. When asked about her favorite sources of support and guidance, Johnson said, “I get the most inspired from block walking.” Johnson also receives support from Annie’s List, an organization that promotes Democratic women running for office in Texas.
When asked about female politicians facing systemic barriers, Johnson said, “people have different standards and expectations for men and women in the political arena.” She believes these barriers stem from the gender wage gap; knowing that running for office is expensive, Johnson believes monetary income, or the lack thereof, is a huge deterrent for women interested in running for public office. She wants women to get involved, saying “join a campaign, volunteer, get experience.” Lastly, Johnson noted, “we have to learn that women’s voices are important. They are only going to be heard if women get involved.”
Julie Johnson is currently running for Texas House of Representatives, District 115 and will face incumbent Rep. Matt Rinaldi in the November general election. Her team is always looking for volunteers, and if you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org