Running for First: Lon Johnson says shut down Line 5 for investigation

Feb 15, 2016

Credit Lon Johnson for Congress

Congressional candidate Lon Johnson is calling for the oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac to be shut down while an independent investigation is conducted.

“If we were to have an accident there, the cost would be immeasurable to our ecology, to our economy, to our health,” Johnson told IPR News Radio in an interview last week.

Enbridge’s Line 5 runs across the Straits, and has drawn criticism from environmental groups who worry about the age of the 63-year old pipe. Enbridge says the crossing is safe.

Lon Johnson, the former chairperson of the Michigan Democratic Party, is running for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. He led Michigan Democrats for two years, from 2013-2015, before announcing he was jumping into the race for the First Congressional District.

The district is predicted to be one of the most competitive districts in the nation in 2016. Incumbent Dan Benishek is not running for a fourth term.

Lon Johnson previously ran for a state House seat Up North in 2012. He lost then, but thinks this race will be different.

What isn’t different is that Republicans are calling into question Johnson’s residency. They say Johnson doesn’t live where he says he does.

“I live just outside of Grayling, between Grayling and Kalkaska right near the Manistee River,” Johnson says. “I moved back to northern Michigan in 2006. I bought that house in 2011. I’m the fifth generation of my family to live in northern Michigan.”

“I have the values of northern Michigan and these are just giant distractions from our opponents who frankly are not willing to provide an answer of how our families can stay and succeed.”

Johnson laid out three legislative priorities: return passenger rail to northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula; bring high speed internet and mobile cell phone service to the entire district; build a freshwater institute to study the use and protection of fresh water.

“In 20 years’ time, nations will be going to war over fresh water,” Johnson says.

Lon Johnson is running against former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon in the Democratic primary.