Next year, Utah Governor Gary Herbert will run for his second full term in office. Herbert will face a challenger for the Republican nomination in next year’s primary election though, as Overstock.com Chairman of the Board Jonathan Johnson thinks that it is time for a change in Utah’s leadership.
“I think that the quality of leader that we hire or elect determines the quality of the government that we get,” Johnson said. “(Utah Governor Gary Herbert) will have served seven and a half years—or nearly two full terms—as governor. While Utah doesn’t have term limits on governors, I think it’s time for new leadership and that’s why I’m running for governor.”
A graduate of BYU, Johnson has worked at Overstock.com since 2002 when he was first hired on as general counsel to the company. Johnson worked his way through the company before finally being named chairman of the board in 2014. He said that his experience with Overstock.com is what makes him a good candidate for the Republican nomination.
“I think I have the leadership skills as part of my background that helped me build a company from a small startup to an over a billion dollar company,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that the main issues he is focusing his campaign around are changing Utah’s education system and making Utah less reliant on the Federal government providing money for the state budget. Johnson pointed to Utah’s 2010 implementation of Common Core in its public education system as something he would like to see changed.
“Under Governor Herbert’s leadership, Utah has adopted the Common Core, which is a nationwide educations standard that brought federal money with it, but it also brought non-Utah sensibilities into our schools,” he said.
While in Logan the previous month, Johnson said he talked with a mother who brought up concerns about the content in her daughter’s grammar homework. While he was unable to recall what the content specifically said, Johnson said that it was not right for children’s homework to contain a political bias.
“The sentences that she described to me were very progressive in their content and to have grammar homework be ideologically charged in one way or another is inappropriate,” Johnson said. “You can teach grammar without teaching political ideology.”
Johnson also wants to see change in education at the local level. He said that if he was elected governor he would give more control to school districts about what kind of standards they taught and what national tests they would use to measure progress.
“At the end of the day, who you vote for really depends on what kind of state you want to have,” Johnson said. “If you’d like to have (the state) managed within the status quo, then I’m not your guy. If you’d like to see the state become more self-reliant, if you’d like to see us be more sovereign, if you’d like to see education transformed in a meaningful way, if you’d like to see economic development not just happen along the Wasatch Front, but throughout Utah, then I’m your guy.”