Rep. Grace Napolitano and her field representative, Bob Pence, met with Ted Johnson Propane owner Julie Johnson and Operations Manager, John Weigel, along with Johnson’s daughter, Alexandria Cesena, and Western Propane Gas Association President, Joy Alafia.
Alafia provided educational materials about propane to Napolitano, and Johnson showed her a copy of the magazine that her company put together in commemoration of Ted Johnson Propane’s 50th anniversary last year, which highlighted “50 Innovative Uses of Propane.”
The idea for the meeting was the result of Johnson attending Propane Days in 2015. She and Cesena met with Napolitano’s legislative assistant Joseph Ciccone during the annual gathering. As a result of that meeting, Napolitano joined the Congressional Propane Caucus, a bipartisan forum formed in 2015 to engage members of Congress, their staff, and the public on issues of importance to propane consumers and the propane industry. Ciccone told Johnson the Congresswoman liked to conduct on-site visits to businesses. The on-site visit to Ted Johnson Propane was postponed after the Congresswoman experienced health issues earlier this year, but upon her recovery, the meeting finally took place. “We wanted to thank her for being part of the propane caucus,” Johnson noted. Toward the end of the meeting at the Ted Johnson Propane facility, Napolitano said the gathering was helpful and that she learned that propane is a less-polluting fuel than gasoline. “But the propane industry is not recognized as an industry that can help,” she stated. “You need to make noise on that side and publicize it to the public.” She suggested that Johnson work with local representatives and councils of government for help with regulatory issues. She also recommended that Johnson submit op-ed or opinion pieces to local newspapers about issues important to local businesses.
Following the meeting, Napolitano, Johnson, and Alafia held a more informal discussion during lunch. Johnson is involved in a women’s CEO group through California State University Fullerton, and Napolitano agreed to speak to the group at a later date. “She’s interested in empowering women,” Johnson said. “My biggest takeaway is she said, ‘Stay in touch.’ I think that’s awesome.”