LACONIA — Dawn Johnson, a first-term Republican State Representative and second-term school board member from Ward 4, is running for mayor with plans to bring honesty, transparency, integrity and greater responsiveness to citizens if elected in November.
“I love the people. I love the community and I enjoy helping others,” said Johnson, who said she has lived in Laconia for about 20 years. “It all has to do with giving back to my community. It comes down to just that. I feel the community is left out to some degree. When I decided to run, it’s for people to have a voice. I listen and respect their views and want everyone to have a voice.”
Johnson cited three priorities, including setting aside funds to repair the city’s parking garage, and addressing the local homelessness problem. “I don’t have an answer to that. It’s going to take teamwork to come up with an answer,” she said.
She stressed that residents should have a say in what happens to the New Hampshire State School property. “I’d like to find a solution that’s best for everybody. We don’t want to lose the walking trails and biking trails and the beauty that it offers.” The Spaulding building has historic significance, she said. “These buildings are important to our history, to learn from that.”
Johnson said she would like to find ways to get the community more involved in local government decision making. “The city isn’t just run by the mayor. It’s run by every department and department head,” and there should be more community collaboration and contact. “I don’t have a specific plan. It’s going to take teamwork, talking to department heads to find out what’s going to work.”
When asked how she would manage the responsibilities of mayor, state representative and school board member, Johnson said, “Prioritizing and time management. That’s all it comes down to. I’ve been a working mother and a volunteer in the community, and running a small direct selling company,” Thirty-One Gifts, which sells bags and items for organizations. “I’ve been juggling multiple pieces for most of my life.”
When asked about linking on social media to anti-Semitic material from a neo-Nazi website, an incident which resurfaces in letters to the editor of The Laconia Daily Sun, Johnson said, “I did issue an apology as soon as it was brought to my attention. The fact is, that's something that happened in the past, almost a year ago now. Mistakes happen and we learn from them, and we grow. I’ve grown and learned from it, and I’ve moved on.”
After the incident, Johnson was criticized for not being willing to meet with groups who felt attacked by the anti-Semitic cartoon attached at the end of the link, which she said she was unaware of. “They were attacking me. They weren’t asking to meet with me,” said Johnson. “There’s a difference.”
“For me, running for mayor is really about honesty, communication and giving back to my community,” Johnson said. “Not only does this community have lakes and scenery, the people in it are resilient. Whether it’s tragedy or positivity. The community comes together during good and bad and we celebrate and support each other. That’s why I love this community.”