Divided They Stand: Part One

Caitlin Burchill

Updated 6 months ago

A couple from Waterville got national attention when they decided to run against each other in this year’s city election.

They chose not to talk to national media, but they did sit down with Caitlin Burchill to talk about their “house divided.”

Jennifer and David Johnson are running against each other for ward 1 warden.

They say the national media wanted to portray them as a couple who fight, but they say that’s not who they are.

They’re actually working together to make a difference in their community.

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Jennifer and David Johnson have been married for 10 years.

David, a solution architect, and Jennifer, a stay-at-home mother, have three young kids, but people are surprised they can live under the same roof. Jenn is a Democrat and Dave is a Republican.

“How we talk about politics is we find our common ground and stand on it together,” said Jenn Johnson.

“Jennifer and I agree on 90 percent of the issues. We just disagree on the ones that are more important,” said Dave Johnson.

But politics got a little more personal after Jenn decided to go to the city’s Democratic Caucus.

“When I got there, I was literally the only person from my ward that showed up and they had no one interested in running for warden. I said well if you need a name, you can use mine, so I came home and told Dave and I said, ha ha isn’t this funny. I’ve always said there’s no interest in me in elected office and he said you’re going to be on the ballot, well I’m going to run against you,” said Jenn Johnson.

It’s an elected volunteer position, helping out on election days, maybe once or twice a year.

It won’t even exist if voters approve a new city charter.

“It really was just intended to be a joke. He thought it would be funny and maybe take a picture of the ballot with a camera and say ha ha, look what we did and it got a lot of attention,” she said.

But not as much media attention as the federal government shutdown last month.

“It’s very frustrating that they’re just unwilling to compromise with each other,” said Dave Johnson.

Jenn and Dave hope they can be an example for the community.

“I would love that the attention to us running against each other, even though it started as a joke between the two of us, that was probably not going to go farther than our house if it gets people interested in getting involved in being involved in politics at the local level,” said Jenn Johnson.

To the Johnsons, making politics work is like making a marriage work

“I don’t think either is going to succeed if you’re not listening to the other person and whether its a husband or wife or a Republican and a Democrat, I think that to get anything done and to be successful, you have to talk to each other and say what do you need,” she said.

Respect and listening, take notes Congress…

I asked Dave Johnson if he agreed with his wife. Laughing, he replied yes.

Making their relationship work.

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While Democrats and Republicans in Congress can’t seem to get along, the Johnsons say they’re living proof people in different political parties can work together.

In “Divided They Stand: Part II,” Caitlin Burchill will show you what they’re doing together for their community.


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