After spending 20 years between New York and L.A. working as an actor, Mountain Party candidate for
Governor Jesse Johnson returned here to act as a caregiver for aging family
When asked what peaked his interest in recent years and triggered the
start to his career in politics Johnson said, "I really have very little interest in politics,
but I have great interest in good governance. I got involved because of what
was happening to my family, my friends, the land, my home and so I rolled up my
sleeves and we built this third party that has basically that has now become
the other major party in the state of West Virginia.”
The Mountain Party gained its major party status
in 2000 after Denise Giardina won 1.5 oercent of the total votes cast in
the gubernatorial race. They have maintained their party status by continually
running a candidate in the governor’s spot. Since 2004, Johnson has filled that
position, running for governor, he said, partly to maintain the party.
“So that we can maintain ballot status and get
this confluence of ideas before the public. To get the public, whoever becomes
governor, to push in that direction, to get these new ideas implemented for the
public good," Johnson said, "so that’s why it’s been governor in most cases that I’ve run
because it’s the governor’s position on the ballot that is the key to
maintaining ballot access as a party, but also as a governor, I can do things with
the stroke of a pen as well that could enhance this state in ways that will
increase the quality of life for people here tremendously.”
An affiliate of the National Green Party,
Johnson said the Mountain Party stands for social justice, equal opportunity,
ecological wisdom and non-violence. Less than 1,000 people were
registered as party members in the state during the 2008 election, but Johnson
said that number is growing as more and more West Virginians become concerned about the ecological health of the
Johnson said without strict regulations, mountain-top removal mining and
Marcellus shale drilling are destroying the natural beauty and harming the
people’s health, and those are two issues he wants to take on as governor.
“We deserve better as a people," Johnson said, "and I have just
come back from being up in the northern part of the state, being on farms,
being in areas where, you know, you used be able to walk out and take a deep
breath of fresh air and it smelled like West Virginia.
"It smelled like the open spaces. It smelled clean.
That’s disappearing. And I’m just the guy who’s fighting for the people and the
state and the environment and the love and the hunting and hiking and all the
things that makes West Virginia a gem. We should be protecting and instead we throw
it all away.”
The idea that a third party candidate has never
been elected as governor provokes no hesitation for Johnson. He says it’s
something that could be good for the state’s political culture, and he’s confident
we will see a third party candidate in the chief executive seat in the future.
“I think it would be perfect that way I become
the natural bridge between those two sides of the aisle. I think that this is a
time that’s going to come.
"It’s just, will it happen this time, will it happen
next time? That I don’t know, but I do know that if you look at this nation and
you look at the state, people are really getting tired of the two party system
that has sold them out to the multi-national banksters and all of our quality
of life is eroding," Johnson said.
Johnson said he will continue to run for office
until he wins, or dies trying.