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Granby businessman, former Selectboard member, eyes open Massachusetts Senate seat

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William E Johnson has announced he is considering running for the Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Senate district seat.

Republican William Johnson announces exploratory campaign committee

The field of candidates for an open state Senate seat in western Massachusetts may soon grow.

Republican William Johnson, a longtime local elected official from Granby and a small business-owner, has formed an exploratory committee as he considers running for the Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Senate district seat.

The seat is being given up by Democrat Eric Lesser as he runs for Lieutenant Governor.

Two Democrats have launched campaigns – State Rep. Jake Oliveira of Ludlow and Sydney Levin-Epstein of Longmeadow, a former assistant to US Senator Ed Markey.

Johnson tells WAMC’s Paul Tuthill he’ll make a final decision on whether to run by early March.

Willian Johnson

I truly feel that Beacon Hill needs somebody who can work with everybody. A good idea is a good idea that shouldn't matter what political party it comes from, and work across the aisle. I have the business experience, the Civic experience. I'm not going to use the office as a stepping stone.

Paul Tuthill 

You talked about your experience in local government in Granby, tell us about that.

Willian Johnson

I started off on the Conservation Commission and worked my way up to chairman. I spent 15 years as a selectman in the town of Granby. I've been on various ad hoc committees, zoning, bylaw review, finance, you know, we're here with the finances, just various committees, still on the police Advisory Committee. When I, after being a selectman, I had a little bit of a pause. And I'm very interested in workforce and getting people to work. So I became a school committee member on the Pathfinder Regional High School in Palmer. I've been on there for 13 years. And about six years ago, the governor appointed me to the Springfield Technical Community College as a trustee. So I have a varied background in civic and elective office.

Paul Tuthill 

And you are a small business owner, what's the business?

Willian Johnson

Me and my family we own Pleasant Street Auto Repair, Hampshire Towing, some other entities, we have about 70 employees with everything.

Paul Tuthill 

As a candidate, if you become a fully declared candidate for the state senate seat, what are the issues that you'll be campaigning on?

Willian Johnson

The platform is, to me is simple is you got to be a voice for the people of district. You got to be mindful of the tax dollar. And again, I'm going back to what I said. But it's mending this dysfunctional partisan politics that is crippling our political system. That may be oversimplifying it but that's that's the basis of it. It may sound old fashioned, but I truly believe in the framers of the Constitution, you know, they talked about citizen legislators. And that's what I feel I can bring to the table. I had my career, built my business, I've been in business for over 40 years. My two sons are behind me. And I just feel it's time to give back and bring some business values to be Beacon Hill.

Paul Tuthill 

The boundaries of this particular district have shifted around every 10 years as adjustments are made because of population changes. But I I want to say it's been probably 20 years since a Republican represented any part of the city of Springfield in the in the in the state legislature. You've got elections every two years. Democrats have got quite a foothold there. I would say how do you overcome that?

Willian Johnson

Well, Brian Lees I believe was the last senator.

Paul Tuthill 

Right. And that was about that was about 20 years ago.

Willian Johnson

The time goes by. I think Gale Candaras was in there after Brian

Paul Tuthill 

Right. And she is Democrat. And then of course, the current Senator Eric Lesser.

Willian Johnson

I don't think there's something to overcome because I'm not...I'm moderate. As president of statewide towing associates, I've worked across the aisle. I've dealt with a lot of the reps and the senators. So I don't feel it's something to overcome. I mean, I think whether you're a Republican, Democrat or Independent, you know, you want the government to be mindful of your tax dollars. You want responsibility in government. You want somebody to find common sense solutions for a lot of problems. Is that kind of that's a nutshell. I mean, really, it's is that simple.

Paul Tuthill 

And so what's your campaign strategy going forward here, again, assuming that you make the leap in a couple of weeks and actually, you know, actually declare that you are that you are a candidate for the seat. What will your strategy be to get yourself more well known throughout this throughout this district?

Willian Johnson

Well, that's what the exploratory committee is for, to work on that strategy.

(To clarify something that came up in the interview, Republican Brian Lees represented what was then the First Hampden and Hampshire Senate district from 1989 – 2007.)