[Editorial Note: Since 1998 The Citizens Campaign has been working to empower a new generation of leaders and cultivate a culture of service.  We teach citizens how to navigate the power structure of New Jersey government & politics and how to exercise leadership in their own hometowns. Every once in a while our citizen problem-solvers use what they have learned to bring their leadership to the next level and seek elected office. Orange resident Harold Johnson is one of these leaders. Read his personal story of how he went from an empowered civic leader to an elected Councilman using the tools and training of The Citizens Campaign.]

Harold_Johnson.JPGBY HAROLD JOHNSON

Sworn in on July 1, 2014 as an Orange Councilman, representing the West Ward

During my inauguration, I was looking out into the audience from the stage and just thinking to myself, a short five years ago I felt so intimidated to speak at my first City Council meeting. I happened to watch a rebroadcast of The Citizens Campaign’s Call to Service on Ch. 35 Access TV and decided to call you folks to get the Manual and go online to take the web courses.

I began to organize my neighbors to start a crime watch group. We now have two other streets in our group.

This past June 2014, I was elected for my third term on the County Committee and was able to help one of my westward colleagues become the Committee Chairperson.

I'm teaching and preaching "power to the people" to organize, use a no blame approach and offering positive solutions -- together, we citizens can bring about real change in our towns.

So here is the good part, I get elected by a margin of 90 votes over the two term incumbent--no strings attached.  My neighbors have sent me to city hall to represent them for the next four years. I have also taken a leadership role on the City committees: Chair of Budget/Finance Committee, member of the Government Operations Committee and council liaison to the Orange Housing Authority.

And the fun part is I'm appointing my neighbors to be polling site workers, Zoning Board, Public Works Committee, Housing and ABC Board just to name a few.

Thank you Citizens Campaign for the road map. I'll be reaching out to do a Call to Service in Orange, New Jersey in the very near future so get ready -- I'm fired up!!!!!