Government

Linn Supervisors Houser, Walker meet in June 5 primary

District 1 primary begins process of seating a smaller board

(Gazette file photos) Linn County Supervisors James Houser (left) and Stacey Walker
(Gazette file photos) Linn County Supervisors James Houser (left) and Stacey Walker

CEDAR RAPIDS — The June 5 primary will mark the first culling of candidates vying to stay on the Linn County Board of Supervisors as the board reduces from five members to three.

While all five current supervisors have filed re-election bids, only two — James Houser and Stacey Walker — will face contested races in the primary as they both seek the Democratic nomination for the new District 1 seat.

In that race, Houser, who has more than two decades of experience as a county supervisor, faces the board’s newest member in Walker. With no Republicans on the ballot, the victor in the primary could run unopposed in November.

Houser, who served on the board from 1990 to 2010 and again since 2015, said his experience in many different layers of county government have prepared him to serve another term.

“I have a well-rounded knowledge and experience with county operations. I could talk to you on any subject you’d like to talk about,” Houser said, citing matters such as roads, flood protection, budgets and mental health.

Walker, who in 2016 became Linn County’s first African-American supervisor, said he tried to be a catalyst for the board’s increased discussion on matters like social services, safety, poverty and equity in the community.

“There is no question that my presence on the board has elevated the conversation around issues of economic opportunities of all people, no question at all,” Walker said. “If we are going to continue to move forward, we need new ideas and a fresh perspective and I think that’s what I bring.”

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Looking forward, Walker, co-chairman of the Safe, Equitable and Thriving communities task force, said much remains to be done on matters like poverty, minimum wage and equity.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed and pleased with the progress we’ve made on economic opportunities for all people, but there’s still a ways to go,” he said. “There are people in our community who are working full time, they’re doing everything right, they’re playing by the rules, yet they’re still not getting ahead.”

Houser said the property tax rollback, mental health services, the state’s opioid crisis and flood mitigation are areas needing focus in the coming years.

“Of course we have May’s Island sitting in the middle of the river like a sitting duck so we have to keep communication open with the city of Cedar Rapids,” he said.

While Houser and Walker are poised to meet in the primary, supervisors John Harris, Brent Oleson and Ben Rogers also are running for another term.

Republican Harris and Democrat Oleson will not meet until the November District 2 race.

In District 3, Democrat Rogers appears poised to face County Auditor Joel Miller, who has said he plans to run for the seat. As a no-party candidate, Miller does not have to file a nomination petition until August.

No other candidates have announced in any of the districts.

Linn County District 1 candidates:

James Houser

  • Age: 64
  • Party: Democrat
  • Occupation: Former sheet metal worker/journeyman
  • Education: Four-year apprenticeship in a sheet metal program
  • Website: houserforsupervisor.com

Stacey Walker

  • Age: 30
  • Party: Democrat
  • Occupation: Community organizer
  • Education: B.A. in political science from the University of Iowa
  • Website: walkerforsupervisor.com

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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