25-year-old Provo student runs for office

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Colby Johnson, 25, is running to be representative for Utah's 63rd District.
Colby Johnson, 25, is running to be Representative for Utah’s 63rd District.

He was only 22, but he was already facing a very big decision — he wanted to buy his own house.

Not being independently wealthy, Colby Johnson, Provo resident and UVU student, felt he was in over his head. Family and friends also weren’t sure about his decision and urged caution. However, Johnson’s father gave him some words that changed his life forever.

“He told me that if I was ready, age doesn’t matter,” Johnson said.

He made the decision to buy the house. Two years later he bought another house. Now at age 25, this entrepreneurial spirit carries him as he is faced with another life-changing decision, and age isn’t going to stop him this time either.

Johnson is running as the Republican nominee for state representative in Utah’s 63rd District. The district encompasses BYU’s campus and surrounding residential areas. Johnson claims that three quarters of the residents here are students that are renting their properties and feels this is the big reason why he is the best guy for the job.

“Students are a huge demographic here in Provo and we don’t have representation,” Johnson said. “Even though I may not necessarily be the most qualified person for the job, I am willing to step up and be a unique voice for Provo to the legislature.”

Johnson’s political interests began shortly after his LDS mission to Spokane, Washington, and have continued since. When his friends would watch Breaking Bad, Johnson found himself watching The West Wing. No one in his family has ever been involved in politics or government, yet Johnson constantly found himself bringing up political issues around the dinner table.

“I actually enjoy going back and watching things like the 1996 presidential debates,” Johnson said. “It’s my sports, but it’s also something that impacts my daily life.”

When Johnson first moved to Provo, his level of political interest dropped. He found it difficult to get involved.

Until he started attending city council meetings. It was there he found out it is possible for students to make a difference. He points to the new parking initiatives recently passed as proof that student’s self-interests can make a difference if they mobilize and participate. Working alongside BYUSA President Brandon Beck, Provo Mayor John Curtis and others, Johnson was a part of a coalition that he believes made Provo a better place to live. However he claims this is just a “snippet” of what can happen if students get involved.

“I really fell that you can affect your community by being involved in your local politics much more than on a national scale,” said Johnson. “People yell about the U.S. Speaker of the House and get upset with him, but really, your city council meeting has more to do with your daily life than national politics.”

This hasn’t stopped Johnson from pursuing and keeping up to date on national politics. It was during the Romney campaign that Johnson met his campaign manager, 19-year-old BYU student Ashley Robinson.

When asked about what his selling point was to convince her to be his campaign manager she doesn’t hesitate.

“The student population needs to be represented and it needs to be involved,” Robinson said. “There are really no reasons not to register to vote here in Utah. The only valid reason I know of is if you plan on doing graduate school out of state for in-state tuition. Other than that it should be clear that you need to register to vote.”

“Also, who doesn’t want to be able to say that they were campaign manager at 19?” she adds with a smile.

Johnson is optimistic about his chances of winning the race but remains positive if things don’t end up working out.

“I absolutely have plans to be a faithful and effective representative if I win,” Johnson said. “However, if I don’t win, just getting the message out there and gaining the experience of a campaign is really cool.”

“Legs over wallets” is the campaign’s philosophy when it comes to donations and fundraising. Johnson has pledged not to accept donations to his campaign. Instead he only plans on spending a semester’s worth of expenses from his personal savings to fund the campaign, practicing the same fiscal discipline that has made him successful in life so far.

“I want students to understand that anyone can do this,” Johnson said.

“We will be having a campaign kickoff and student involvement event on March 5th where students can come and find out how they can get involved in our community,” Johnson said. “People can also show their support at the Caucus which will be held on March 20th.”

For more information about the campaign or to get involved visit www.Colby4Provo.com.

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