Johnson seeking re-election to commission post

02_cyndiBy Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

Cynthia “Cyndi” Johnson, age 53 is seeking her third term as county commissioner and serving the constituents of Pondera County.

She was born in Broadus in a clinic that later became a liquor store and then a flower shop. She was raised on a ranch on the Powder River.

Johnson graduated from Powder River High School and went on to study science at MSU-Bozeman and accounting at MSU-Billings. She received her certification in Long Term Care Administration from Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D.

In addition to serving the last 11 years as a commissioner she continues to farm with her husband on the family farm, 23 miles east of Conrad.

Prior to farming, Johnson was a licensed Long Term Care Administrator for 20 years and worked in the long-term care and retirement housing industry.

She is a member of the Golden West Lutheran Church, the Golden Triangle Gymnastics board of directors, the current president of the Conrad Swim Team, the Pondera County Republican Central Committee Secretary, the Montana State Secretary of the Republican Party, Front Range Counties Farm Bureau board of directors, the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce (past board member), Friends of the NRA and just for fun she tossed in the Thursday night bowling league.

Her honors and special recognitions read like a Who’s Who.

In 1988 Johnson had the distinction of being one of 81 Certified Retirement Housing Professionals in the nation; in 2005, she was the first commissioner or elected official from Montana to ever be chosen to attend the National County Leadership Institute; in 2007 she began representing Montana on the National Association of Counties Board of Directors. Currently she serves on the Audit Committee, Membership Committee, Rural Action Caucus and the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee and last year she was chosen to serve as the President of the National Council of County Republican Officials.

She has served on the Montana Association of Counties board of directors since 2005 and was the President of the MACo in 2007-08. She was elected Fiscal Office of MACo this past year.

She has represented the county  on the Center for Mental Health board of directors since 2002 and currently serves as the chairman of that board. Johnson also serves as a vice-chair on the HRDC board of directors (Opportunities, Inc.); the vice-chair of the Sweetgrass Development board of directors and the secretary of the Pondera Regional Port Authority.

Johnson says, “Pondera County definitely has a ‘seat’ at the table with many of the organizations we belong to or serve as governance for.”

She goes on to add, “The world is indeed run by the people who show up-with a plan. My plan is promoting Pondera County, keeping our communities at the top. We are very fortunate to have exemplary county staff and a heck of a road department which allows all of us, as elected officials to represent the county where we need to be.”

Asked why she wanted to run for  a third term, Johnson replied, “There will always be work to be done.”

She cited for example, the Pondera Center which is a project still in motion. “We are ironing out details of the relationship between the county, community and tenants of the building.”  She notes there are funding issues with several areas that need attention, like the libraries and Senior Services.

“The office of county commissioner is not the same office it was 20 years or even 12 years ago,” she says, adding “I am extremely competitive when it comes to making sure my county is able to be at the front of the line. I am willing to step up and defend our taxpayer’s rights, our property owner’s rights, and our resident’s rights. As a commissioner, I am deeply involved in monitoring the natural resource and economic development activity in our county and making every effort to help our residents stay informed.”

Addressing her strengths and weaknesses, Johnson said her strength lies is her ability to bring people together to develop common sense solutions and her practical business and AG experience.

Her weaknesses have always been the inability to say “no” to a challenge and the lack of patience with negative attitudes and the “speed of government.’

On the topic of changes and ideas she would like to pursue, Johnson said she is actively pursuing more public workshops to assist landowners in permitting their own gravel pits and water sources. There will soon be a greater demand for gravel for construction projects, but the process of permitting is lengthy and frustrating.

She hopes to strengthen the relationship between the county, Conrad and Town of Valier. “We’ve made great strides in the last 10 years, but we still have work to do.”

She would like to establish a “presence” in the office so there is always someone there when people make contact.

I am available at all times even if I’m at another meeting or, during harvest – I’ve often conducted meetings or resolved problems from the cab of a combine because technology allows all of us to do just that, she says.

Looking at the biggest problem area in the county, Johnson notes that the United Grain project south of town and the MATL Power Line are near-by pluses to our economic bottom line.

On the other hand, oil and gas development will not increase the tax base for the first 18 months they have a presence in our county.

She noted that, “Libraries, Senior Services, the Extension office, law enforcement and justice are all areas which enhance our community. My desire is to be able to fund them all at maximum levels we desire, not the minimum we are able.” Johnson has been a coach in the Conrad Park and Rec summer baseball program for 27 years. “I absolutely love coaching kids!” she says with emphasis. The swim team is another passion of hers and when she has a little spare time, I like working with wood, gardening, singing and acting with the Pondera Players, camping, fishing and shooting.

She and her husband Ken have a daughter Sheridan in the seventh grade at UMS, and Mariah, who lives in Fort Benton with her family and son, Darin Stanley and his family.

In closing, Johnson said, “We have, in the last 11 years, accomplished some great things in Pondera County, the greatest of which was the creation of the Pondera Regional Port Authority.”

She went on to add that the county senior citizens were able to move, “to a wonderful new community based facility, we’ve seen the completion of the North Interchange and will soon see the construction of the new rest area.”

“I am so honored to have had a role in all of these projects and many more as your Pondera County Commissioner,” she said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of this county and would sincerely appreciate their support in the re-election bid.”