Jonathan Johnson, chairman of Overstock.com, held a kickoff party for his Republican campaign for Utah governor in 2016. The event started at 6pm and was located near Overstock.com headquarters in Cottonwood Heights. Over 500 eager votes ate and attended the event.
The night started with Johnson’s wife of 27 years, Courtney Johnson, introducing her husband.
“Everyday someone or even myself asks, why are we doing this? We didn’t start out with a dream to live a life in politics,” said Courtney. “Our goal is to get in, serve, move forward important issues in the state, then step back. We are not laying the groundwork for 2020."
Jonathan Johnson then outlined why he is running for governor, his views and his priorities once in office.
Johnson began his speech referring to the book Leadocracy by Geoff Smart. The book focuses on how governments are most effectively run by leaders that understand and work in the business sector and attracting those leaders to government.
“I know first hand what Utah businesses need to flourish in this state. I also know that strong leadership and business principles applied in government could take Utah from a good state to a great state,” Johnson said.
Johnson outlined key points of his run for governor including getting rid of common core, taking back Utah's public lands, lowering taxes, imposing term limits and reducing dependance on federal funds that come back to the state with strings attached.
“When was the last time something came from Washington and you said ‘that really helps me and my family out’?” Johnson asked to audible laughter from the crowd. "I like smaller government, I like government closer to home," Johnson said.
Johnson briefly described his first actions to be undertaken if elected to office as focusing on localizing, personalizing, and collaborating government and Utah's education system.
“Leadership is as leadership does,” said Johnson while talking about the current state of Utah’s economy.
Johnson addressed the issue of corporate taxes, calling out Governor Gary Herbert for his "uneven playing field" when it came to helping "home-grown Utah businesses." Jonathan called for the lessening and even possible elimination, of Utah's corporate income tax to level the playing field.
“I invite you to put me through a rigorous interview process, and put the Governor through the same rigorous interview process,” said Johnson. Johnson reiterated his call, which he first made during his announcement speech at the Republican State Convention last month, that both he and the governor participate in a series of debates around the state discussing the issues. This call for “early and often” debates will help voters see both Johnson’s and Governor Herbert’s strengths and viewpoints.
Jonathan Johnson ended by encouraging attendees to visit his website and follow his social media handles JJohnsonNow and #HireJJ.
To listen to the speech in its entirety click here
To look at photos from the event click here