State Superintendent John Barge is stepping down from the post to challenge Gov. Nathan Deal in next year’s Republican primary.
Johnson is an active community volunteer, including leadership roles with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. He is also a potential self funder with a broad fundraising network that may allow him to dramatically outspend the opposition.
He also has the kind of crossover appeal that led the 2012 charter school amendment to be successful. In that campaign, suburban Republican Georgians united with suburban middle-class African American families to pass a state referendum that gave parents the ability to form their own charter schools.
“That campaign showed that Republican conservative ideals can appeal to new constituencies, including racially and ethnically diverse communities,” one political strategist said. “Fitz is a younger African American businessman who, like the charter school effort, would probably allow the Republican ticket to appeal to a broader constituency than historically has been the case.”
Johnson said he is running for the office because he believes Georgia’s students, educators and parents deserve a new kind of education leader to effectively run the public education system.
“They deserve someone with education expertise and a proven track record of actively supporting our schools. More importantly, they deserve a leader with strong experience managing large operations and building partnerships that produce results.
Having served in the military and built a successful business, Johnson said he understands how to manage a bureaucracy.
“I also know how much more efficient and effective those bureaucracies can be when they embrace private sector expertise,” Johnson said. “Gov. Deal is right. Georgia’s schools are the foundation for our state’s economic development and, more importantly, the future success of every child in Georgia. As the father of three children who graduated from our public schools, I share every parent’s deep commitment to public education.
“I believe our students and our schools can achieve more if their state school superintendent empowers them to do so. I ask every Georgian for their vote with the solemn oath to be a bold voice for unity, accountability, operational effectiveness, and reforms focused on providing the best education possible for every child.”
Johnson is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. He earned an undergraduate degree in education from The Citadel, a Master of Education degree from Troy State University and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.
After serving in the military and briefly practicing law, Johnson joined his father and brother to launch Eagle Group International, a defense contracting company. He helped grow the small business into a dynamic enterprise that was recently acquired by Lockheed Martin.
Today, Johnson is a partner at Georgetown Capital, a private equity firm in Atlanta, as well as CEO of Broadrange Logistics.
He helped launch the Atlanta Beat, a professional women’s soccer club.
Johnson is an active community leader serving on the Board of Trustees for the WellStar Healthcare System and on the WellStar Foundation Board of Trustees. He is a former trustee of the Cobb Energy Centre Foundation.
He is active in the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, having served as the Leadership Chair on the Chamber Board, and co-chairman of the Cobb Chamber Leadership Cobb Program Class of 2010.
Committed to public education, Johnson was a member of Marietta High School’s School Council for four years and currently is a volunteer community football coach at Wheeler High School. He is a regular guest lecturer at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business.
Johnson has twin daughters, one a graduate of Coastal Carolina University who is now a first year student at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, and the other a graduate of Wake Forest University who is in her second year teaching high school biology in Mississippi for the Teach for America program. Johnson’s son is a senior at Coastal Carolina University and cadet commander of the ROTC program.
He attends Cumberland Community Church in Smyrna.
GREGORY CHALLENGED: Local attorney Bert Reeves of Kennesaw is expected to announce his campaign to unseat state Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) for the House District 34 seat, which covers Kennesaw and Marietta, at this morning’s Cobb GOP breakfast.
Reeves, a former Cobb assistant district attorney, will be the first to officially announce a challenge to Gregory. Reeves said he plans to run his campaign on the theme of “Effective Conservative Leadership” and that he, “will work to put conservative principles into action, focusing his efforts on creating jobs and economic development, maintaining a smaller and more efficient government, and no new taxes.”
Gregory, the former state director of the Ron Paul for president campaign, surprised many when he ousted veteran Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) in the 2012 Republican primary.
Gregory is considered divisive by Republicans like Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy. Dendy, for example, has accused Gregory and Smyrna businessman Oleg Ivutin of leading a Ron Paul faction that has infiltrated the GOP because they can’t achieve success in their own party. Dendy maintains they are libertarians, although Gregory insists he is a Republican.
“As a group, they have been brainwashed to the point that they think they are Republicans. Ron Paul did that,” Dendy told the MDJ earlier this year.
Cobb EMC’s Sam Kelly, who along with Jamie Vann came up with the idea for what now is the Whole Hog Happenin’ when they were serving on the Cobb Boys Club board years ago, reports that next fall’s Happenin’ will involve the streets on all four sides of Marietta Square. This year’s event, which raises money for the downtown museums, took place on East Park Square and was ultrasuccesful.
“Sixty Minutes” producer and Marietta native Henry Schuster won a pair of news Emmy Awards for the show’s episodes on the raid that took out Osama bin Laden. Schuster is the brother of Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster.
HISTORY LESSON: Historian Dr. William P. Marchione will discuss his new book, “A Brief History of Smyrna, Georgia,” at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 15. The author of seven titles, Marchione will discuss how the process of publishing local history has changed since he began writing for publication nearly 30 years ago. Marchione is a retired history professor who moved to Smyrna from Boston in 2009. He holds a Ph.D. in urban history from Boston College, an M.A. in American diplomatic history from George Washington University, and is the author of seven books and hundreds of published articles.
Second-graders in Carrie Aho’s class at the Walker School wrote Walker alum David Hale letters following his first game pitching for the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 13. The students gave Hale their advice on how he could be successful and much to their delight, Hale responded personally to all 17 letters. He also wrote a touching letter to his former teacher, Mrs. Aho, thanking her for always encouraging him to do big things. The 2006 Walker School graduate played college baseball for the Princeton Tigers before being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the third round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft.