Election 2020

Amid investigation, Johnston drops out of N.M. House District 47 race

'We shook things up'


Updated Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m.

At an appearance Sunday morning (Feb. 23) at the Unity of Taos church, the site of her former school, Lyla June Johnston announced she was folding up her campaign for the New Mexico House of Representatives District 47 seat in order to throw her support behind the youth-led movement for climate action change.

Johnston also ended her campaign amid an investigation involving fraud and embezzlement alleged by her former campaign manager. 

According to a Santa Fe Police report filed on Jan. 23, Johnson’s former campaign manager reported a number of items stolen from their office in Santa Fe. The stolen items included a post office box key, which was later allegedly used by someone to change the lock of the box. The report also states that the campaign manager’s checking account was later overdrawn into the negative – for a total of $8,474.

While no charges have been filed against Johnston in the investigation, she is referred to in the police report as "the candidate ... currently running for District 47 against Brian Egolf ..." No other candidate had entered the race to challenge Egolf as of Tuesday (Feb. 24), according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

To a packed, sympathetic audience, Johnston, of Diné and Cheyenne lineages, acknowledged the toughness of the opposition against her as she aims to take on the oil and gas lobby, and alluded to the "brutality" of personal attacks against her. ‘I do not have a perfect past,’ she said, acknowledging drug use and sexual abuse growing up in Taos, but added, "I actually like politics," and at only age 30, she spoke of preparing for the next campaign and the need to keep up the pressure on "corporate entitles."

"We shook things up in Santa Fe," she said, to cheers and laughter from the audience. She plans to use the money that she raised in 50 states during her short-lived campaign to help advocate for alternate forms of economic development in New Mexico, such as "localizing the food industry."

Johnston introduced her talk on the theme ‘spiritual activism’ at Unity of Taos with an address in Diné. "I’m not really an activist," she began. "I’m just a normal person who wants clean water." She defined spiritual activism as the merging of both effective change and love—especially forgiveness of one’s opponents. "To step into the river you become the river," she said. She cited the powerful words of her elders who advised her: "You will not allow yourself not to try."


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