Dusty Johnson for Congress

The 116th Congress was sworn in on January 3. Since then, The Point newsletter has been conducting a series of interviews with some of its fresh new faces. Today, we’re interviewing GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota.

Washington CNN —  

Just a few weeks into the job, South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson is one of the members of Congress turning down his congressional paycheck during the shutdown. 

Johnson, a Republican, has taken the reins of South Dakota’s lone House seat from Kristi Noem, who jumped from Congress to the governor’s office in November. The 42-year-old Pierre, South Dakota, native has previously worked as chief of staff for a governor and served as a member of the Rushmore State’s public utilities commission.

Now he’s working on building the relationships and expertise to navigate the nation’s capital – and maybe turning his new staffers into Black Eyed Peas fans. 

Lauren Dezenski: In four words, describe your first few weeks in office.

Dusty Johnson: Good people, difficult environment.

LD: What’s your top priority in your first term?

DJ: My top priority is building the relationships and expertise necessary to make progress on deregulation, infrastructure and fiscal responsibility.

LD: What’s your expectation on what happens with the current partial government shutdown?

DJ: Any reasonable expectation would have held that this thing would have ended weeks ago. That said, we need to reopen our government. That will only happen if there is an effort on both sides to find common ground. 

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LD: What was your biggest lesson from your campaign?

DJ: There is still a lot more that unites us than divides us, even if that isn’t what generates headlines.

LD: Do you have a favorite pump-up song? What is it?

DJ: “Let’s Get It Started” by The Black Eyed Peas was my anthem on the campaign trail. The 2004 hit didn’t resonate with my younger campaign staffer at first, but by the end of the campaign he was a fan. 

LD: Tell me about your favorite food from your district.

DJ: Kuchen is a German cake made with sweet dough and custard. It is incredible, and is the official state dessert of South Dakota.

It’s a new week chock-full of more member Q&A’s. Is there someone we should talk to from your district? Email lauren.dezenski@cnn.com with your suggestions – and a BIG thanks to all of you who have already reached out!