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Gregg Johnson, a Democrat and prominent local labor activist, has announced  his candidacy for the Illinois' 36th District state Senate seat in next year's election.

Johnson is a former president of the AFSCME union representing workers at the East Moline Correctional Center. Johnson, 53, is retired from the prison.

An East Moline resident who worked for more than 31 years at the prison, Johnson said his campaign will emphasize how to improve the economy. He also said the state needs a fairer tax structure and that the wealthy haven't paid their fair share.

"We need a much less regressive tax system," he said.

Johnson also is critical of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for the two-year budget impasse.

"I don't believe the governor ever wanted a budget," he said.

 He said it is good that a budget was passed. He called the budget and tax increase measures a bipartisan agreement. "A budget was certainly better than no budget," he said.

Ten House Republicans and a Senate Republican joined Democrats to override Rauner's veto on the tax measure.

Johnson has been active in Democratic politics in the area for several years. In addition to heading the AFSCME union at the prison from 2011 to 2015, he was the political chair in the Illinois Quad-Cities for AFSCME Council 31.

Rock Island County Democratic Chairman Doug House said Wednesday that, so far, Johnson is the only Democrat he's aware of who is planning to announce that he will run for the 36th District nomination. The filing deadline isn't until December.

The 36th District seat is held by Sen. Neil Anderson, a Republican from Andalusia. He was first elected in 2014.

The primary will be March 20.

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