Youngest candidate seeks Toledo City Council spotWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | email@example.com
Remember what your No. 1 priority was when you were 21 years old? It’s pretty likely that whatever you’re thinking of (or trying to forget) is not the same thing occupying 21-year-old Ron Johns’ thoughts this summer.
Johns, a marketing and entrepreneurship major at the University of Toledo, is hoping to become Toledo’s youngest sitting city councilman in history. Currently, Johns is spending his summer vacation on the campaign trail, talking to potential voters about his “Less Taxes, More Freedom” platform.
“I’m going to be at a lot of festivals,” Johns said of his campaign plans.
Johns, who graduated from Maumee High School in 2010, said that he could have waited to run for Council years from now, but felt this was the perfect time for him to seek election.
“I just felt that this is a time in our history where people are really sensitive to what’s going on. People are open to new ideas,” Johns said. “I don’t have 30 years of passing bad laws. I don’t have 30 years of stealing your money. I don’t have 30 years of corruption.”
Johns, an aspiring entrepreneur, said his concerns about opening a business in Toledo after he graduates also spurred him to run.
“I have always wanted to start my own business in Toledo. However, I feel like Toledo, the way it’s going, it would not be the soundest investment for me to start it in Toledo with the way politicians are running things,” Johns said. “I’ve always been strong into politics and I’ve always loved Toledo. I thought, ‘Why don’t I make some change of my own and make it so entrepreneurs are welcome in Toledo?’”
Johns said he believes making Toledo more entrepreneur-friendly wouldn’t just benefit him, but would help the job market across the city.
“The best way that you can promote job growth is to allow entrepreneurs to come here and form companies and make it easier for them,” Johns said. “I would do that by lowering a lot of the fees they have to pay, and to lower harmful regulations that don’t protect citizens but make it harder for the entrepreneur to stay around.”
In addition to jobs, Johns says he is running on a limited government platform.
“I’d like to give the control back to people and to businesses, back where it belongs. I’d like to get rid of some regulations that are doing more harm than good,” he said. “I’d like to get the government out of that as much as possible, and look at some new ideas of how to revitalize it through the free market, instead of through public works, because citizens are eventually going to have to pay for that.”
Limiting government influence, Johns said, is the key to turning the city around in a number of areas.
“I see the solution to our problems as being an easy one: just butting out of business’ business. However, that’s a revolutionary idea on City Council,” he said.
Johns, a college senior, said his biggest challenge, if elected, will be convincing other Council members that big government isn’t always a good idea. It’s a challenge Johns said he is ready to face.
“I’m stubborn, but I’m fairly likeable. I will really try to convince them in a kind, polite way,” he said of potential Council rifts. “But in the end, my vote is always going to be for giving people more liberty and taking less of their money away. The way I look at it, stealing is stealing, even if you put it in the form of government and say you’re doing it to help somebody. If you’re having to take that from other people who aren’t going to see that benefit whatsoever, I think that’s unfair.”
Johns said another challenge he was concerned about earlier in the race was whether Toledo voters would agree with his ideas for the city. But after interacting with citizens while campaigning, Johns isn’t as worried.
“I thought it would be a really big challenge. But when I go out and talk to people at festivals and fairs, a lot of people aren’t saying, ‘You’re a Republican; I’d never give you the time of day.’ A lot of people are hearing me talk about common-sense issues like not spending more than we need, not wasting money,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. They just want someone to be honest.”
Johns describes himself as Republican with Libertarian values. He founded a chapter of a student organization, Young Americans for Liberty, at the University of Toledo and was a volunteer for the Youth for Ron Paul campaign.
Chris Wolniewicz, who met Johns through the Young Americans for Liberty at UT and is the publicity representative for the chapter, is hoping his friend will be elected to a higher office this fall.
“The reason Ron and I get along so well is honesty. Ron will always tell the truth, no matter how ugly,” Wolniewicz said. “He got the club off the ground almost entirely by himself, and he’s doing his campaign 90 percent by himself.”
He said he relates to Johns, and not just because of his political views.
“He comes from a very modest background like myself. He knows what it’s like to be from the middle class,” Wolniewicz said.
Johns is also hoping to relate to other young Toledoans, and is hoping his social media presence will help him gain their votes.
“If people want to contact me, it’s super easy. I’m on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. People can ask me questions whenever and I’ll do my best to answer them,” he said.
He also is taking to the online forum Reddit in hopes of fundraising for his campaign. He plans to host an AMA (ask me anything) session on the site in the near future.
“I don’t think I could have done this 10, or even five years ago. However, with the advent of the Internet, I think it’s awesome how I can connect. I’m hoping that people who are conservative, or liberty-minded, or even common sense-minded will pitch me $20,” Johns said.
As with any college student, Johns is greatly influenced by his peers —many of whom want to leave the Toledo area after graduating.
“I want people to go, ‘Dang, this is a nice place. Maybe I’ll move back,’” he said.
“At UT, we have people from other countries who say they want to leave Toledo as soon as they’re done. It’s almost a mindset. I think they see our leaders not doing anything different. We get new faces, but do the ideas ever really change? Toledo has been going down the same path. We get new people in and have new rhetoric.”