The victory of congressman-elect Bill Johnson, R-Poland, represents the first time a Republican has won the 6th district seat since the 1994 election that also saw Republicans taking over the U.S. House.

That 1994 wave included Frank Cremeans' defeating then-Congressman Ted Strickland in Ohio's 6th after Strickland's first term. Cremeans served one term, and then Strickland was elected back into the seat in the 1996 election.

He held the seat until he ran for Ohio Governor in 2006. At that point, U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, won the seat and held it for two terms until being defeated by Johnson this year.

So just who is Bill Johnson?

He was born and raised on the cotton and tobacco farms of east-central North Carolina. He said in an interview last Wednesday that his family had an old farming style, using mules until he was 13.

After joining the U.S. Air Force out of high school in 1973, Johnson spent the next 26 years in the service, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He said joining the military was his shot at an education, and he ended up graduating summa cum laude from Troy University in Troy, Ala., in 1979, and earned his master's degree from Georgia Tech in 1984.

Johnson rose from the position of airman basic to director of the Air Force's Chief Information Officer Staff at U.S. Special Operations Command. In that position, he worked with top military and intelligence brass to ensure special forces were adequately equipped to carry out security missions.

After retiring in 1999, Johnson successfully started two small information-technology consulting businesses. The first was the Johnson-Schley Management Group, which focused on commercial information technology.

In 2003, he left Johnson-Schley to form J2 Business Solutions, Inc., where he focused on providing executive level IT support as a defense contractor to the U.S. military.

It was this experience that led him to be recruited to Ohio, where his wife was from, and where she still had a lot of family. And since 2006, Johnson has served as Chief Information Officer of Stoneridge, a global manufacturer of highly engineered electronic components for the transportation industry headquartered in northeast Ohio.

"We've always had ties to Ohio, but because of my career I never actually lived here myself until January 2006," he said.

Johnson said that this election, his first venture into politics, came about primarily because of his faith.

"I believe that our country is a country that was founded on the principles of faith in God, and a belief that God had ordained America to be the great country that it is," he said. "I say that because when you consider the relative age of America compared to the other major civilized countries in the world... we're still a baby. And yet, virtually every modern convenience known to mankind... were birthed right here in the United States."

He pointed to the light bulb, the auto industry, the airplane industry, various computer technologies and space exploration as examples. He said this came about because when free men and women are allowed to live their dreams and pursue their dreams without a controlling bureaucracy on their backs, they prevail.

"We accelerate; we innovate; we compete," he said. "I believe with all my heart that America has a destiny in the world. And I believe that God put us here for that reason. So I'm a Christian. I'm a conservative. I'm a family man. And I love my country with all my heart."

Johnson said the current economic situation in America, combined with the lack of trust Americans have in their elected officials, and those officials' lack of integrity, also inspired him to run for office.

"We need to get back to the basic principles that made us great: God, country, freedom, individual liberty, adherence to the Constitution," he said.

After spending the campaign season traveling the expansive 6th District, which covers much of the eastern border of the state and parts of Athens County, Johnson said he discovered great difference between the urban and suburban areas outside of Youngstown, and the rural and Appalachian regions down south.

"There's one consistent, common factor - the people," he said. "Some of the hardest working people that you will find anywhere."

He said the desire to work and innovate is present in the district, and he wants to get the federal government out of the way so jobs can be brought back to the area and the people can pursue their dreams.

With at least two years in Congress, Johnson said his primary concerns will be repealing health care reform and eliminating tax burdens. He said he would also focus on creating jobs by working with Ohio Senator-elect Rob Portman and Governor-elect John Kasich on implementing their plans.

"The first thing that people have to understand is that you can't turn the Titanic around in a swimming pool," he said, pointing out that some changes will be slower to come than others.

With many jobs in this district being either energy- or agriculture-based, Johnson was asked what he could do at the federal level to grow these sectors even more.

"One thing is address the regulatory issues that stop those businesses from growing," he said. "We have coal mines that can't open up because of government regulations. We have energy companies that have been stymied because they can't get through the bureaucratic red tape. And I want to facilitate a change to that kind of thinking."

Coming from a farm background, and also railing against government overspending, Johnson was asked his thoughts on subsidies that benefit large agri-business and how government can better help smaller farmers.

"We have to enable America's farmers to compete and thrive," he said. "What's going to happen if we outsource our farming and our agriculture? We've got to create an environment where the small farmers can compete and produce. I want to look at these subsidy programs."

He said it isn't the federal government that pays subsidies, it's the American people who do this, through taxes.

"Those are areas I definitely plan to get into," he said.

One major part of a Congressman's job is constituent services. And Johnson promised that all of his constituents would have access to him and his office.

"The people of the 6th district are going to see a very different constituent services process from me," he said. "One of the complaints that we heard up and down the district is that they did not have access to Mr. Wilson; that he was unresponsive. They aren't going to have that (with me). They're going to see me. They're going to have opportunities to engage with me."

Johnson said that while change won't happen overnight, he is confident that the voice of the American people has been heard.

"The victory on (Election Day) was not a victory for a party," he said. "(The victory) was more about the American people saying, 'It's time to change course and to get back to the principles that have made us great.'"

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