Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bountiful City Mayor endorses the Better candidate

Standard Examiner
Bountiful mayor endorses (shudder) a DEMOCRAT!
Last updated
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 10:03pm

BOUNTIFUL -- Joe Johnson isn't on the ballot this year, but that isn't stopping the nonpartisan Bountiful mayor from being a topic of conversation when it comes to the Nov. 2 general election.

Johnson has verbally endorsed Democratic candidate Richard Watson in his bid for the open House District 19 seat. His endorsement is an irritant to the Davis GOP.

"I'm very disappointed," Davis County GOP Chairwoman Shirley Bouwhuis said upon hearing Johnson had endorsed a Democrat.

Johnson, who is in China representing the city of Bountiful in connection with the International Organization of the Preservation of Folk Art, confirmed via telephone he has endorsed Watson in his race for a House Seat.

"Absolutely correct," Johnson said.

"I have a right to make an endorsement," he said of his backing Watson. "(Watson) has been really engaged in what is happening in Bountiful."

Watson has provided the city with many volunteer hours serving on its Community Services Council, Johnson said. Besides that, Watson is a friend, he said.

However, Johnson's endorsement of his Democratic friend has dropped some Republican jaws.

Based on county voting records, Johnson is a registered Republican, Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said. Johnson is not the first nonpartisan elected official in the county to endorse a candidate in a partisan contest, Rawlings said, a right Johnson gets to exercise like any other individual regardless of party affiliation.

"I'm a Republican, and I support the Republican nominee in every race," Bouwhuis said.

Watson is facing Republican Jim Nielsen and Constitution Party candidate Reldon White to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful. Allen also crossed party lines, as she's running for lieutenant governor with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon.

Watson said that, over a lunch with Johnson, he did receive the verbal endorsement of the mayor. That resulted in Watson's placing a campaign sign in the front yard of one of Johnson's rental properties.

Watson, a longtime Democrat who has made unsuccessful bids for other offices, said Johnson's endorsement of his campaign means everything, since he has been working with the mayor on Bountiful city's Community Service Council.

Supporting a Democrat in what is a county heavily dominated by the GOP, Watson admits, takes a strong personality, a trait Johnson is known to have.

"When (Johnson) stands for something, he will let you know. He says what he thinks," Watson said.

The much-talked about endorsement surfaced at recent meet-the-candidates nights, Watson said.

Councilwoman Beth Holbrook, who attended the same luncheon in which Johnson gave Watson the endorsement, said Johnson indicated he would endorse Watson because for two years Watson has performed voluntary community service as chairman of Bountiful's Community Service Council. That council oversees activities such as concerts in the park and the emergency preparedness fair.

Johnson indicated he felt that service should be taken into consideration, Holbrook said.

In addition to Johnson, two members of the Bountiful City Council also have endorsed his candidacy, Watson said. Holbrook said she is one of those council members.

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