Johnson stops at coffeehouse to speak with constituents

The Shawano Leader
By: Lee Pulaski
May 5, 2015

Darlene Ross, president of the Lake Country Republican Women, has been an ardent supporter of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson since he ran for his current seat in 2010.

So Ross felt it was only appropriate to say hello Saturday when the senator stopped at Glas the Green Coffeehouse in Shawano as part of a tour of northeast Wisconsin.

“I’ve known him for years,” Ross said. “I just thought it was a good time to run down here and meet him again.”

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson chats with Darlene Ross, president of the Lake Country Republican Women, during his stop Saturday at Glas the Green Coffeehouse. Johnson made several stops in northeast Wisconsin to talk with his constituents about the issues that concern them. He also was interested in visiting Glas, a fairly new business in the community.

Prior to arriving in town, Johnson made stops in Oconto and Marinette; afterward he headed to New London. He chose Glas for his local stop partly because it’s a fairly new business in the community, and he tries to stop at some of the newer businesses to learn about what owners are dealing with.

“This is what I do,” Johnson said of the community visit. “This is what I’ve been doing for four years, connect and listen to hear what’s on people’s minds.”

Johnson said it is important to “convey the truth” to his constituents and let them know about the issues facing the country and its communities. A lot of the reporting to the constituents has been done through telephone town halls due to busy voting schedules in the Senate, he said.

“I’d rather do it in person because it’s more fun driving through this beautiful area,” Johnson said. “I like to drive myself and visit with people.”

Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl spoke with the senator about a federal grant program that is expected to provide $20 million in funding to law enforcement agencies for body cameras. Kohl said he asked Johnson to keep Shawano in mind if he sees any of the grant applications.

The city has a few body cameras, but not enough for every officer. Kohl hopes to get at least 10 more at a cost of $1,200 apiece.

“It’s just a little piece overall,” Kohl said. “I’m optimistic, but yet I’m pessimistic that it could go to larger agencies.”

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl, left, shakes hands with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson during Johnson’s visit to Glas the Green Coffeehouse on Saturday. Kohl said he asked the senator to keep the city police in mind when it comes time to distribute federal grants for officer body cameras.

Ross said she and Johnson see eye to eye on “almost everything,” so they did not have much to debate. One of the shared issues is the challenges veterans face after returning from war; Johnson has been looking into concerns about veterans not getting adequate treatment from VA hospitals, and Ross’ organization has a specific mandate to help veterans in need.

“It was just a matter of explaining my point of view and then listening to his side,” Ross said.