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Roads, budgets priorities for District 4 candidates

Linn County supervisor candidates agree on sticking with five

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CEDAR RAPIDS — On Nov. 8, Linn County District 4 voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Brent Oleson and Republican challenger Randy Ray for its Board of Supervisors.

Oleson, first elected to the board in 2008, said some of his best qualities as a candidate is his experience and patience.

“I feel like I’m more effective now than when I first was elected,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ray said it’s time for a change.

“There needs to be a little more cooperation. Right now, it seems like not everyone knows what the right hand is doing and what the left hand is doing,” Ray said, adding that the board needs to work better with other county elected officials and with city councils.

Ray, who teaches at Washington High School, said one of his biggest priorities would be to focus more on the county’s secondary roads system.

“What I hear from the country area is the roads, they need work,” Ray said.

Oleson said that his top priorities — issues such as water quality and conservation, public transit and maintaining a positive county budget — are items that take time.

“I’ve learned that the biggest things this community needs are things that can’t be done overnight or just by focusing on it for a week,” Oleson said.

Both candidates agree the board should maintain five supervisors rather than three to ensure rural residents and those in communities outside Cedar Rapids have representation on the board.

Linn County voters will weigh in directly on the matter on a separate ballot item.

As for supervisor pay, though, Ray said he would advocate for lowering it from more than $100,000 a year to $70,000.

Oleson, meanwhile, said he would be willing to discuss a reduction in pay as long as it applied across the board to all elected officials including county auditor, recorder and treasurer — who each make the same pay as the supervisors.

The two men agreed the minimum wage ordinance — which the board passed earlier this year — should be handled at the state level.

But while Oleson described raising the local rate as an example of a county service to enhance residents’ quality of life, Ray said the minimum wage should be driven by the economy.

Brent Oleson

Age: 46

Occupation: Lawyer, Linn County supervisor

Education: Bachelor’s and law degrees from University of Iowa

Hometown: Burlington

Randy Ray

Age: 60

Occupation: Eleventh-grade social studies teacher

Education: Bachelor’s in teaching from University of Northern Iowa and master’s in secondary school administration from Drake University

Hometown: Marshalltown

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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