Hank Johnson, 52, was elected to Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District and claimed the seat of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, whom he defeated in a runoff last year.
Considered a long-shot candidate a year ago, Johnson is among more than 50 new congressional members — including three new black members — who will be sworn into the 110th Congress Thursday in Washington, D.C.
"I am proud to be a part of the Democratic majority taking the House of Representatives back to the people," Johnson told BlackAmericaWeb.com Wednesday.
"I’m learning about my colleagues, about the legislative issues and constituent services and I’m looking forward to this historic opportunity to replace the 109th ‘do-nothing’ Congress," he said.
Johnson said he plans to focus on several legislative issues, including raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 an hour; cutting the interest rates in half for student loans and reducing costs for prescription drugs.
"It’s a great challenge," Johnson said in an interview. "I’m well-rested after the holidays, and I’m up to the task."
The only new congressional member who is a practicing Buddhist, Johnson said he’s found an apartment on Capitol Hill and on weekends will commute to Lithonia, Georgia, outside Atlanta, home to Johnson, his wife and two children.
Johnson’s new colleagues, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, will also be sworn into Congress Thursday and two other black congressional members — alongside Yvette Clarke (D. N.Y.) and Minnesota’s Keith Ellison. — will take the oath alongside Johnson as new officers of the caucus.
U.S. Representatives Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) will be sworn in as the leadership team of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 110th Congress. Kilpatrick is the Caucus’ new chairwoman.
Kilpatrick said the Caucus’ Legislative Agenda for the 110th Congress will emphasize expanding constituent outreach and developing young leaders to address disparities faced by black Americans and other minorities, providing more aid for Darfur and black residents of New Orleans. Aides said the Caucus’ annual Legislative Agenda is expected at the end of January.