Jim Johnson (240478)
Credit: Twitter

Democrat Jim Johnson is running for Governor of New Jersey with hopes to change the tone, among other things, in the politics of the Garden State.

The Montclair native is a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, has held several senior positions in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, including Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, and was former chair of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

Johnson is one of six Democratic candidates facing off in next Tuesday’s primary. His election would be historic, making him the first African-American governor of New Jersey if he wins.

In a recent interview, Johnson said he’s running because he cares deeply about his family and community.

“The state of affairs here has to be turned around,” he said. “We are suffering from high levels of inequality, we pay too much across the board for taxes and we don’t have a government people trust.”

Johnson is referring to the state’s leadership under current Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whose time in office has been plagued by scandals and broken promises, leaving many of New Jersey’s most vulnerable left behind. Johnson points out that basic needs in cities are not being addressed.

“I believe that elected leaders should take on office with a commitment to serve, and it should be clear throughout their administration that their job was to serve the people,” he said. “That’s not the tone that’s been set by Gov. Christie.”

Transit, property taxes and foreclosure are areas Johnson said need major concentration. New Jersey continues to feel the effects of the 2008 recession. He added that the foreclosure crisis has had a particular impact on communities of color that hasn’t been addressed under current leadership.

Another area Johnson wants to improve is criminal justice. Last week he released his “Justice for Jersey” plan which includes investing in diversion and early intervention, closing youth prisons, ending mandatory minimum sentences, establishing re-entry programs and legalizing marijuana.

“Over the course of my career, I have fought to promote fair policing and to reform our criminal justice system, and I have brought law enforcement, communities, Democrats and Republicans together to do it,” he said. “As governor, I would bring that same dedication and experience to Trenton to make New Jersey a leader on criminal justice reform.”