About Me

Early Life

I was born in 1979 in San Diego County, California, the youngest of four kids.  I grew up as a typical kid, playing baseball and football, going to the beach, watching the Chargers and Padres.  My parents put a huge emphasis on family, integrity, honesty and hard work, which I carry with me today and with my own family.  I attended Shadow Mountain Community Church (home of Dr. David Jeremiah) where I met my high school sweetheart, Karyn.


Political Start

My childhood was accelerated when I used a Swiss Army Knife to cut a rubber band off of my finger during class my freshman year of high school.  A student told the teacher and I was rushed to the principal’s office.  Being labeled a danger to myself and others, I was recommended for expulsion.  My father led the fight through radio, TV and even running for school board.  Through the process, I learned how politics work on a local level.  We lost the fight and I lost a year of school, but that year I learned so much more than any classroom could have taught me.

I published a monthly newsletter which started as a way to get my story out, but evolved as a way to uncover the corruption that was happening in my school district.  This led to me being invited to Washington D.C. to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, leading up to the 1996 presidential election.

I later attended the Republican National Convention in San Diego during the summer of 1996.  It was a life-changing experience to witness firsthand how our nation nominates candidates.


Business #1

A unique opportunity presented itself during the final semester of high school. My father and I started a nationwide notary training company.  He traveled the country teaching seminars and I, an 18-year-old high school senior, was running the office.    I was in charge of advertising, scheduling, hiring and firing, customer service and creating a website in 1998!


Military Service

I felt called to serve my country in the military.  The Navy recruiter convinced me to enroll in the elite Nuclear Power program.  It was a six-year commitment, with two years of intensive training in Goose Creek, SC, focusing heavily on math and science, including six months at “Prototype” in Ballston Spa, NY.  I graduated the top 25% of my class and went on to serve on the USS Harry S. Truman out of Norfolk, VA.  While in port, I made time to volunteer as a coach/videographer at a local high school and helped a friend with his homeless ministry in Newport News.

My time aboard the Truman included two Mediterranean deployments.  The first was the Truman’s maiden deployment, then a post 9/11 tour supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  I decided that continuing military life was not conducive to having a family, so I returned home to San Diego to start another business with my father and marry my high school sweetheart.


Business #2

The second start-up was similar to the first. We innovated online training in 2005.  We developed a video, interactive training course for notaries in California.  There was nothing like it at the time.  Instead of my father traveling hotel to hotel, we made training available to anyone with a computer and internet.  This was so popular, we expanded the offering to the entire nation in 2006.


The Love of My Life

I am very fortunate to have been able to marry my best friend and my first real love.  I met Karyn in 1995 at a high school church retreat.  We became instant friends and began dating about a year later.  Our post high school lives diverted, but we remained friends through it all.  When I returned from the Navy, she finally agreed to marry me in 2005.  She is my rock and my inspiration.  She supports my crazy ideas but is not afraid to speak up when she sees me going the wrong direction.  I joke that behind every good man is a woman rolling her eyes, but that is not true about my wife.  She is blind to my imperfections and sees me the way no other does, and for that I am truly thankful and blessed.  I would not be the man I am today without her love and support.


The “Nashville” Relocation Project (NRP)

In 2004 my sister initiated what we refer to as the NRP (Nashville Relocation Project).  After Christmas of 2004 we loaded up her family and my fiance, to visit Nashville.  The Franklin area was recommended by my mother who had traveled the country with my father during the live seminar stage of his career.

We fell in love with the friendly people immediately. It was such a contrast from what we were used to in California and Virginia. We made the commitment to move within five years.  Our wedding was planned for April 2005, we had just started the business, I just returned from the Navy, so five years seemed reasonable.  By the end of 2005, my sister, my parents, Karyn and I all bought houses within 1/2 mile of each other and claimed Tennessee as home.


Hailey Sue

We welcomed our first child in late 2007.  She was born with a thirst for life and too smart for her own good.  She has been gifted with many talents and abilities and has a brilliant mind.  She is one of my greatest blessings in this life.  I am proud of how she has grown up to be an amazing person.  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.


Teagan Nicole

She was born on the fourth of July 2009, the same day we lost a local legend, Steve McNair.  She is our little firecracker.  She has a joy of life found in so few, but it is exciting to get a glimpse of her world view.  She is creative, smart, funny, gets my sarcastic jokes and one of the most compassionate souls you have ever come across.  This girl will change the world someday, if not today.  She has changed me.  Every night I pray with her (as I do with all my kids) and say, “Thank you God for letting me be her daddy.”


Fitness Advocate

In late 2009, my wife joined a “Biggest Loser” competition with her mom friends.  Being, a loving, supporting husband and wanting to get back in shape as well, I joined her on a lifestyle change.  This was October when it started.  We had to deny ourselves the goodies of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A routine of grapefruits and egg whites for breakfast, oatmeal for lunch and a lean chicken or fish for dinner and we were looking like we were going on our honeymoon again.

In 2010, she signed up for the Country Music Half Marathon as a bucket list item.  I hated running, but wanted to support my wife and run with her.  I became addicted to running.  We signed up for the Tom King Half Marathon for our 10 mile training day.  It was great for 10 miles, but rough the last 3.  Karyn ran the whole way!  Unfortunately, she injured her foot later and never made it to the Country Music Half Marathon with me that year.  I also signed up for two more races in the Fall; I was hooked.

I have completed approximately 13 half marathons, 4 marathons, 6 overnight relay races, 6 triathlons, including 2 half ironman (70.3) and at least 25 races under 10 miles.

Thanks to my friends and neighbors we were able to raise over $2500 for St Jude in memory of my father, Bruce Johnson.

Business #3

I received a call one day from a realtor friend who informed me of a retail business that needed help.  I met with the owner and it was beyond saving at the point I entered into it.  I left the meeting thinking that was the end of the conversation.  As days went on, I felt called to take over the business.  I prayed with my wife about it.  Our church small group leader and his wife came along side us financially and encouraged us to pursue it.  It was a miracle that we were able to make this deal work.  Everyday I kept knocking on doors and they would open.  Finally, after much planning and endless nights, we opened Run Franklin in December of 2012, just after black Friday.

The goal of this store was never about money.  We knew the challenges of a retail business.  I never took a dime in wages or profit from the store, despite working it almost daily.  We did everything we could to try to make it through the first years of a new store.  My goal was to teach people about my joy of running and share with them how I discovered how to minimize injury.  We wanted to promote health and wellness in the community, so the running store was a great hub for that advocacy.

In 2013, as a way to help finance the store, I created the Franklin Half Marathon.  I hired a management company to organize the logistics and on June 22, 2013, 1200 people showed up to the inaugural event in Leiper’s Fork.  My race director had estimated about 300 would show up, as quoted in the newspaper.  Despite the success of the race, the management company took the profit, leaving us the same situation as we were before the race.  A perfect storm of my father putting pressure on me to spend more time with the family business, the construction on Hillsboro, not being able to secure the brands we wanted and finally the sudden death of my father forced us to close the doors of the retail store in February of 2014.

The race continues and is managed by me and my team.  2018 will be our sixth consecutive race.

I hesitate to share what appears as a failed business, however, I feel that failure is one of the best places one can learn.  I believe everything happens for a reason.  If I had not started that store, there would be no race and I would not have met many of my closest friends that I have today.


Alison Brooke

As if one Christmas baby wasn’t enough, we had our third girl in December 2012.  This girl was the easiest baby and continues to be one of the greatest joys of my life.  She is smart, witty, sharp as a tack and can eat like an Olympian.  She says new and funny things every day and has a zest for life that is awe-inspiring.  They say the third child is often neglected, but she does not take no for an answer.  She grabs life by the horns and finds a way to get what she wants, no matter how impossible it may seem (usually this is the quest for chocolate).  Three was the perfect number for us and I am blessed to have this one in my life.


Football and Baseball

In 2006 and 2007 I helped the Franklin Rebels with their game film.  In 2014, I joined local high school and youth officiating associations.  I have always had a love of football and I wanted to be a part of it.  I could not commit the time and effort to coaching, so officiating seemed like a good fit.

Officiating may sound easy, but it requires constant studying, critiquing and philosophizing.  It has changed the way I watch games as a fan.  It requires you to be quick, attentive and able to take criticism in a stress-filled environment.  When I am on the field, I am in my element.  I make it a point to rule fairly and consistently.  I treat the kids as my customers.  If I do right by the kids, then I know I did a good job that day.

While football is my wheel-house and mostly came natural to me, baseball stretched me a bit more.  In 2015 a football friend encouraged me to umpire with him.  His encouragement was enough to get me all-in on baseball as well.  I had not stepped foot on a baseball field since I was 12-years-old in Little League All-Stars.  Now, as a 35 year old, I did my first training in the lions den at Marshall County for a 10 inning scrimmage.  I thought there would be  a veteran to train me.  Unfortunately, I was the only one that showed up.  Never having umpired before, I strapped on the gear and stepped onto a field where every single person there had more on-field experience in the previous week than I had in 23 years!  Needless to say it was a disaster.  Fortunately that experience did not sour me to the vocation, because I really enjoy umpiring now.  I even (sometimes) enjoy the banter with lively coaches.


Peoples Church – West Franklin – Rolling Hills – Grace Chapel

In the 12+ years we have lived here, we have attended four churches.  Each one has helped build upon the foundation of our beliefs and relationship with God and fellow believers.

As young newlyweds, we found a Sunday morning Bible study of other newly marrieds at Peoples Church.  This group set the foundation for what our life would be like in Tennessee.  We shared life together, much more than just the hour of Bible study.  Most of these people we met are still in our lives today.

After about a year at Peoples Church we moved to the much smaller West Franklin Baptist.  We dedicated Hailey and Teagan at this church.  This was a great little church with a friendly pastor.  My parents and Karyn’s parents attended with us.  It was safe and familiar.  At the point where Teagan was the only baby in the nursery, we decided it may be better to find a church that had more young families than West Franklin had at the time.

Rolling Hills became our church home for eight years.  Pastor Jeff Simmons is an amazing man of God and someone I admire and respect.  Many of our good friends still go to this church.  They do incredible things in the community, such as serving the underprivileged in the area, the annual wrapping station in the mall and missions in Moldova and South Africa.

It was a difficult decision to leave, but we moved to Grace Chapel this Summer as we looked to grow closer to God and work to serve others better.  Pastor Steve Berger is an unparalleled leader and advocate of God. We felt this was the best place for our family to grow.  As a couple, Karyn and I have completed the new members class, Steps 1 and we are currently going through Steps 2.  We look forward to continuing to grow here, serve here and raise our children to know God and live according to His will.


Volunteering

The nature of the beast of running for public office is you have to brag about who you are and what you have done so that people that have never met you or only met you briefly feel confident that you are qualified for the job.  If you have read everything above, you have likely already made your mind up about me.  That being said, I volunteer in many different local organizations and events and often sign my kids up to help me so they can learn how to serve as well.  I was shocked when our family played Wits and Wagers and discovered that less than 25% of the U.S. population volunteers.  I am not going to list all my volunteer history, because I do not believe volunteerism should be hung up like a trophy.  I prefer to stay low-key and volunteer when I can, without recognition or reward and I also encourage others to do the same.