Candidate hopes to make positive difference despite a troubled past

Candidate hopes to make positive difference despite a troubled past
James Johnson says he is doing his best, as he seeks the office of mayor in Vermillion, to assure people that he can be trusted.

"I'm not always achieving uniform success, however," he said. "Sometimes, it's because others do not keep their word to you, and therefore you have made a commitment to others that makes you look bad."

Johnson said his life began taking a downward turn before he eventually pled guilty to grand theft in the early 1990s. He added, however, that court records don't tell the entire story.

"It is possible for things to be other than they appear to be in public," he said.

Johnson said his problems, in part, can be traced to physical and emotional exhaustion that he was experiencing at that time while caring for his ill mother.

Johnson said he eventually chose to take the easier path after his felony charges.

"I decided, and people may choose whether they wish to believe this, that the easier path was to agree to something that I probably should have never agreed to do," he said, "and that was to plead (guilty) to something that I should have fought against."

Johnson said he did use other people's money. "However, I did have their permission without the ability to prove that. I was too busy trying to do too many things at one time, and I did not handle my job appropriately.

"I'm not necessarily proud of the way I handled it," he added, "but I handled it as best I thought I could under the circumstances that existed at that time."

Johnson said his family paid a terrific price as a result of his guilty plea.

He added that despite the DUI convictions on his record, alcohol abuse has never been a major problem in his personal life. Johnson admits he foolishly decided, on a few instances, to drive after he had been drinking.

"I didn't have the intention of driving during the times when I was picked up," Johnson said. "That doesn't excuse it. That doesn't make what I did correct at all."

His personal goal, he said, is to make sure he never hurts his family again.

"I want to see that this hurt that has been caused to my family comes to an end," he said, "and that my wife receives the respect that she's always deserved in this community for who she is and what she is.

Johnson admits that "I look really bad on paper," referring to his criminal record. "But I can tell you that I sleep well at night. When I don't sleep well at night, it isn't because of guilt feelings for anything I've done. It's sometimes because of sadness for the way people think things have turned out. If I had fought as hard then as I do now, then maybe things would have been a lot different."

Johnson also wants the opportunity to make a positive difference in the Vermillion community by serving as mayor.

"I want to see that the right thing is done in this community," Johnson added.

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