COEUR d'ALENE - A former North Idaho businessman and Post Falls Chamber of Commerce board member who was involved in a high profile shooting in downtown Coeur d'Alene announced he is running for Kootenai County Sheriff.
Adam M. Johnson, 27, will seek the elected post as a Republican.
He said finding a solution to the jail capacity issue without asking taxpayers to a fund a new building is key for the county, as is trimming the sheriff's office budget while finding ways to financially incentivize deputies to remain here instead of leaving for other departments.
Johnson said his recent legal troubles - which include a citation for consuming alcohol from the December 2009 shooting and a 2011 guilty plea for felony heroin possession - don't mean he isn't serious about the job.
"I believe in what I'm doing, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it," Johnson said Monday. "How better to give back, having been on the other side?"
Johnson helped found the telecommunications business, Convertec Corp., in 2004. The business has since closed, but Johnson said he'd bring his financial experience running the company to the sheriff's office by getting grants to help pay for more cost-effective treatment programs instead of building a new jail.
Johnson does not have any experience with law enforcement. It is his first attempt at any elected post.
"The office of sheriff is largely administrative in nature," he said. "I'll learn all those positions and find a much better way to allocate resources."
A big message of his campaign will be to financially support deputies to prevent them from leaving, which would save money and improve quality in the long run. He said he could look to increase deputy training and implement more merit pay possibilities.
"That's our human capital," he said. "We need to make a decisive investment."
He said he'd brainstorm with all deputies on how facets of the office could be improved. While Johnson was in jail following the 2009 shooting, he saw many inmates without anything to do, which is why he said he's adamant about offering more rehabilitating programs. The county's work release building is one possible spot where more jail beds could go to ease jail crowding.
"If we're putting money into something without a result, that's wrong," he said.
The downtown shooting injured two men from Moses Lake, Wash. Attempted murder and aggravated battery charges against Johnson were dismissed in January 2010 by a grand jury.
During the legal troubles, Johnson lost the right to carry a concealed weapon and was placed on two years supervised probation.
Nothing in Idaho statute prevents Johnson from running for sheriff. The felony sentence has a withheld judgement, so it could be dropped from his record upon successful completion of probation.
He is single and does not have children. He said despite his legal troubles, people shouldn't view his campaign for office as anything but serious.
"This is a democratic process, and everyone has a say, including myself, somebody who has been on the wrong side of the law," he said.
Everyone has slipped up at some point, he said, "just maybe not as publicly."