As I have shared in the past, every now and then I have the privilege (and, yes, personal indulgence) to write about people near and dear to my heart. Such is the case with Gregg Johnson and his candidacy for the Illinois State Senate’s 36th District. And in the spirit of full disclosure, he is my favorite boy cousin on my mother’s side.

Gregg’s dad Gary was my mother’s little brother who lived next door to my grandparents for a lot of our growing up. Our families were together for every holiday and special events, usually gobbling our Grandma’s Swedish Hash and pushing the envelope relative to noise and mayhem.

We were a typical Midwestern clan, with parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who indelibly influenced us in profoundly positive ways, most especially by their examples of hard word, respect for others, kindness as the first response, grit, fight rather than flight, and insistence on using our heads. Somewhere in there we also developed a reverence for our country – a deeply patriotic connection with self-determination, civics, and a passion for problem solving to make things better.

That’s why it came as no surprise when Gregg announced his candidacy to run for the Illinois State Senate’s 36th District (covering 70 percent of Rock Island County and Whiteside County). One of his best qualities is that what you see is what you get. He is every bit the smart, loving guy he has always been, fiercely loyal, and protective of his family and friends – and now his constituency.