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Drew Johnson, candidate for Clark County Commissioner District F and his wife, Sarah. (Photo: provided by Drew Johnson)

Weekend Globe: Interview With Drew Johnson

Candidate for Clark County Commissioner talks policy, porn and pink flamingos

By Megan Barth, June 5, 2022 8:51 am

The Globe had the opportunity to interview Drew Johnson, candidate for Clark County Commissioner (District F). Recently, we have reported on the spat brewing in this race with political consultant Lisa Mayo DeRiso. This interview provides additional insight into the political drama and the background and visions of this candidate who moved to Nevada, as many do, to thrive and enjoy all that the Silver State has to offer.

The Nevada Globe: How long have you lived in Clark County and why did you choose to relocate to Nevada?

Drew Johnson: In 2015, my wife, Sarah, and I found ourselves in a position where we could both work from home. We could’ve lived anywhere in the world and we chose to live in Clark County. We’ve been here ever since. We love the people, the food, the weather and the hiking. At the time we decided to move here, Sarah was also getting her small business up and running, and we wanted a place where her business could thrive. Unfortunately, the fees and red tape involved with running a business here are worse than I imagined, and that’s one of the reasons I’m running – to make Clark County more business-friendly.

Other than going up to Montana for a few weeks a year to check on a former rental property, we’ve been in Summerlin nearly non-stop for almost 8 years.

What prompted you to run for office?

I’ve always worked behind the scenes in public policy at think tanks and conservative media outlets. I like to say my job is to give good ideas to good lawmakers to turn into laws. Unfortunately, here in Clark County, there are seven Democrats filling the seven County Commission seats. So, there aren’t really any good lawmakers to give good ideas to. They’re not particularly interested in policies that reduce the size or power of government.

So the frustration of not having a voice on the Commission that represents taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and people who believe in limited government and personal responsibility led me to consider running. The county’s reaction to Covid also motivated me to run.

Finally, because of how the districts are drawn, District F is the only Commission seat Republicans have a realistic shot of winning. When I saw there were no principled conservatives filing for the race and no candidates who had a shot of beating the progressive extremist incumbent Justin Jones, I jumped in to represent all Republicans and conservatives in Clark County.

What are the roles of a Clark County Commissioner?

Behind the Nevada governor, the seven Clark County Commissioners are the most important elected officials in the lives of Clark County residents. The Commission oversees business licensing; manages the airport, the University Medical Center, and infrastructure and transportation issues; and supervises land use and water policy. Commissioners also determine property tax rates, as well dictate a small amount of the sales and gas taxes, too. They oversee nearly 60 county departments and agencies, and appoint representatives to nearly 40 different boards and commissions that supervise numerous aspects of daily life for Clark County residents.

Drew Johnson, Candidate for County Commission, District F. (Photo: Drew Johnson)

Why are you running against Justin Jones and what promises have you made to District F? .

Justin Jones is known as “No-Show Jones” in District F. He’s not responsive when constituents have a need. Services are overlooked and ignored. He consistently puts special interest and donors above the needs of the people. And then he shows up a few months before an election and pretends he’s on top of things.

When I see the condition of the roads in Sandy Valley, or the lack of dog parks near Summerlin South, or how difficult it is for someone to start a business in Enterprise, or the mounting number of issues being reported in the county’s FixIt app that go unresolved, it’s all a reflection of how little Justin Jones cares about the people of the district.

The most despicable thing Justin Jones did was to propose a resolution to declare “Covid misinformation” a “public health emergency,” and silence anyone who spread what he considered misinformation.

He literally wanted to take away the First Amendment rights of anyone who spoke out against mask mandates, vaccine requirements or how poorly the county was handling Covid. Justin Jones has absolutely no business still being in office after trying to take away our Constitutional rights.

Interestingly, one of my opponents who said she would’ve opposed Jones’ Covid misinformation resolution in an interview with The Nevada Globe actually “liked” a story on Twitter that supported the resolution. She was a Justin Jones-style progressive before she decided to become a Republican last year to run for this seat as a Democratic plant.

I promise District F residents that I will be responsive when you reach out to me, I will be respectful of your hard-earned tax dollars, and I’ll be humble enough to know that you make better decisions for yourself and your family than government ever could.

What new ideas would you bring to the Commission?

For 14 years, the Clark County Commission has consisted of only Democrats and has been controlled by progressive special interests. So I feel like every idea I have to cut taxes, increase transparency and accountability, restrain the size of government, trim spending, slash fees and regulations, and reduce the burden of government on the people of Clark County will feel pretty new to the other commissioners.

How could you provide balance on a commission that is run by a Democratic majority?

If I am elected to the Clark County Commission, every Republican in this county will finally have a say in county government. It will be difficult to get much passed since I’ll be outnumbered 6-1. However, I will certainly stop bad things from happening by applying my background as a government watchdog and accountability advocate.

There will finally be someone who knows what they’re doing watching what’s going on from the inside.

None of my primary opponents have the background I have of being a watchdog and a policy analyst. I’ve saved taxpayers more than $60 billion in my career by exposing waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. I’ve written legislation that eliminated unnecessary programs, increased school choice options and reduced regulatory burdens for small business owners. I’ve overseen budgets for state agencies.

One of my Republican primary opponents is a music producer, one works in retail at a mall, and one works at a small credit union. Those are wonderful careers, but they have nothing to do with public policy or standing up for our conservative principles.

I have worked at the National Taxpayers Union, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, the National Center for Public Policy Research, and the American Enterprise Institute standing up for individual liberty and fighting for limited, responsible government every day of my career.

What is your opinion about the newly revised master plan for Clark County, Transform Clark County?

Anytime the government tries to over-regulate private property use, micromanage growth and dictate what the future of a community is going to look like, there’s going to be very little good, a bunch of bad, and lots and lots of ugly.

The good includes efforts to increase housing stock, making the county more neighborhood-centric, reinforcing the commitment to recreational areas, and planning for an eventual Ivanpah airport, which will be necessary to relieve some of the pressures of cargo traffic from the existing airport.

The bad are things that will make people feel good, but will likely fail and be a big waste of money like a light rail scheme.

The ugly is page after page of doling out subsidies for green energy boondoggles, and plans to stuff low-income, high-density housing structures into affluent neighborhoods, which will lower home values and increase crime.

You have filed a complaint with the Nevada Secretary of State regarding Lisa Mayo DeRiso’s appointment to the Election Board. Can you please explain the complaint and provide an update? 

I, along with the Nevada GOP and Las Vegas City Council candidate Alan Bigelow, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State because someone who is a campaign advisor for one of my opponents, and who works for a number of Democratic candidates, is serving as the only Republican representative on the board that certifies Clark County elections.

This person is literally paid more if her candidates win, so she is clearly motivated to do all she can to try to make sure that happens. She is also personally biased against some of the candidates. For example, she has spent much of the past month trolling me and my wife on social media.

She’s not impartial, she’s not unbiased, she’s not fair. Republican candidates don’t want her serving on the board. The Republican Party doesn’t want her serving on the board. The only people who believe she should be on the board are Joe Gloria and the candidates she works for.

The biggest problem is that, in this time in which many Republicans don’t have much faith in our election system, the head of elections in this county appointed someone who Republicans don’t trust. Rightly or wrongly, it will make Republicans feel as though the deck is stacked against them and make more people question the integrity of our elections.

I expect to receive a response from the Secretary of State this week.

What are the first three things you will do should you win election?

The very first thing I will do is propose to change the name of the airport from the Harry Reid International Airport to the Las Vegas International Airport.

Next, the crime issue must be addressed. Murders are up 44% in the past year in Clark County. Robberies are up 33%. When I was doing a ride-along a few weeks back with one of our brave Metro officers, we responded to a call where a senior couple were robbed at gunpoint in their own driveway. Situations like that are far too common.

Metro is facing a difficult situation recruiting and retaining both officers and dispatchers, and those shortages must be addressed. There are some things the Commission can do to attract more qualified officers and call-takers to work for Metro, both by working with Metro and by working with the state. I will lead those efforts.

Finally, spending is out of control. The county’s general fund budget has exploded by nearly 40% in the past five years. I’ll use my experience as a tax and budget analyst to craft a budget that trims the fat without sacrificing vital services, and puts the county on track to finally lowering taxes for our residents.

Back in 2013, you wrote a piece entitled “Benefits of Internet Porn”. Do you still espouse these views today?

One of my opponents, Jenna Waltho, keeps throwing this article out there in hopes that it gets traction and will harm my campaign, but it never does because it’s not an issue for anyone who can read. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for her that she thinks that she could make an issue out of a journalist covering a news story.

In addition to my work as a policy analyst for think tanks, I’ve spent much of my career writing about news topics of the day for outlets like The Daily Caller, Newsmax, The Washington Times and Townhall.

A decade ago, I reported about a couple of studies that came out indicating that an increase in internet access and, therefore, an increase in the availability of online adult content was partially responsible for a dramatic global drop in rapes and sexual assaults against women. Many studies have come out since confirming those initial findings.

I wrote an article discussing the studies in The Daily Caller, a conservative media outlet that would never publish something advocating porn. I pointed out that the reduction in sexual violence against women is a positive thing, no matter one’s view on porn. My article also pointed out some of the troubling issues with porn. And from that one news article, my opponent is trying to make it seem like I’m the reincarnation of Hugh Hefner.

Does Jenna Waltho think that a reporter covering a murder supports murder? That’s how idiotic this smear campaign is. It shows a basic lack of understanding of journalism and, quite frankly, of the news in general.

I know Waltho is grasping at straws because she has been outed as a Democratic plant and she’s realizing no conservatives will vote for her. But attacking me for writing a news story is progressive cancel-culture silliness at its worst. It’s also a dangerous threat to press freedom. If a journalist can be attacked for reporting a news story, it sets a troubling precedent that could prevent reporters from covering important issues in the future. It’s censorship and it’s disgusting.

Humorously, Instagram is filled with photos of Waltho partying and vacationing with a friend who works on camera in the adult industry. I’m not sure how she can criticize me for writing about a couple of scientific studies in a conservative media outlet, when she is literally going on trips with people who star in porn.

Lastly, I see you’re a Golden Knights fan and are credited for starting quite a colorful tradition at the games. Please tell us about the pink flamingo and how that began. 

I was a Nashville Predators season ticket holder for years. Sarah and I are huge hockey fans and were thrilled when the Knights came to town. We’ve had season tickets for the Knights since they first went on sale.

One of the traditions at Preds games is tossing a catfish on the ice before the start of big games. That tradition is a countrified version of the Detroit tradition of tossing an octopus on the ice for luck.

We decided that there needed to be a Vegas version of these traditions. We didn’t want to use a real animal like they do in Nashville and Detroit. We didn’t want to kill something for no good reason. And we wanted it to be bright and fun and over-the-top. So we snuck a plastic lawn flamingo into a game and tossed it on the ice. It seemed to bring the Knights good luck. They went on to win the game.

Over time, it morphed into a Victory Flamingo. Now people toss plastic flamingos on the ice after the Knights win. Players celebrate with them and pass them around.

The tradition has really taken off. The team sells Victory Flamingo items. People dress like flamingos at the games. I’m really proud to have started a fun tradition that a lot of Knights fans enjoy and look forward to.

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