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Johnson runs unopposed for Washington County D4 seat; Swenson reaffirms decision to withdraw

Wayne Johnson

Wayne Johnson will be running unopposed this November for the Washington County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat, though Jeff Swenson’s name will still appear on the ballot.

Citing time commitment concerns, Swenson withdrew from the race mid-summer without having spent a penny on campaigning. Though he had missed the deadline to get his name off the ballot, his exit was reported in the South Washington County Bulletin and the Pioneer Press. Still, 1,405 primary election voters ensured him a spot on the November ballot.

In the days following the primary election, Swenson said he was considering whether he could commit to a role on County Board as he weighed several job offers. But now, as he prepares to start one of those jobs, he has decided to stick with his original decision not to run, he confirmed Sunday.

The non-partisan, non-profit organization League of Women Voters held a forum for the District 4 seat, which covers Cottage Grove, Denmark Township, Grey Cloud Island Township, Newport, St. Paul Park and portions of Woodbury and Hastings. There, Johnson shared he has begun to prepare for taking office.

“I understand this is a unique situation where my opponent has decided he’s not going to run. However, it has not changed anything for me. I am still going to work hard,” he said. “I do not want this as a default. I want it because people believe in me.”

He said he’s been attending the weekly board meetings since winning the primary.

“I am starting to act like this is going to be my position and I am going to start (on) Day One fully ready to serve this community,” he said.

Johnson said his top two priorities were water quality and transportation.

“I want to make sure that the money that was earned or won for this community gets spent on the community that needs it,” he said, referring to the money allocated to the county in the February 2018 3M settlement. “My priorities are the priorities that were originally set out when the awards were given out by the court. That's, send the money out to the people that need it.”

He added that he has experience making similar decisions on water in his capacity as a Cottage Grove City Council member.

Johnson said transportation improvements, such as adding more frequent bussing for people working both in the county and in the city, would be key in boosting the economic success in the county.

“We have a long term plan to get to the Red Rock (Corridor) one day,” he said.  “I believe we’re going to get there, or community needs it. … it’s going to affect our growth and our future.”