Election-Local

May 10, 2014

Candidate profile — Johnson: Schools can be safer

Jamie Johnson likes the fact that his kids don’t have a desire to go to Disney World.

He likes that Sawyer, 4, and Lilli, 6, would much rather camp with their dad near a spot in Florida where “you can hear the ocean 25 feet away from your camper.”

But he doesn’t like that parents often have to worry about how safe schools are, he said.

“I want to have that comfort to know, when I drop my kids off, that I feel confident they are safe,” he said. “Whatever safety measures we need should be in place. The more we have, the better.”

To that end, Johnson, a lieutenant with the Dalton Police Department, is running for District 2 on the Whitfield County Board of Education against incumbent Rodney Lock in the May 20 Republican primary. The district includes Cohutta and the northeast section of the county. No Democrats qualified.

Both of Johnson’s children attend Beaverdale Elementary School. And while Johnson says there’s no major security problems in Whitfield schools, he believes the board should invest in better front door security. Some schools, he said, are easy to access, while others have a “foyer” where you have to be buzzed in. He’d like more of the latter, he said.

He also wants to research alarm systems that would give teachers immediate access to 911 should something dangerous like a shooting occur.

“Security in our schools is something we really need to focus on,” he said. “I don’t think you’d find a parent who disagrees with that. Even though this is Dalton, things can happen. Some people think it won’t happen because it’s a small town, but it happens in small towns, too.”

Johnson said he knows additional security would cost money. He says he will focus on “tough choices” in the budget if elected.

“What we need to do first is to put the priority on students,” he said. “And we need to make sure teachers have the resources they need. That would be one of the first things I would do if I get elected — to familiarize myself with everything.”

Johnson said he also wants to focus on partnering with businesses in the community. He recently “graduated” from the Leadership Dalton-Whitfield program, hosted through the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. The program, Johnson said, gives a tour of local businesses and trains citizens on how they can be more active in the community through leadership roles.

Johnson and his wife Jennifer have lived in Dalton for 14 years, Johnson said. He graduated from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and later obtained a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University, he added.

(This article has been edited to reflect that Johnson is a lieutenant with the Dalton Police Department.)

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