Linn County petition with more than 12,800 signatures calls for Aug. 1 election

If verified, voters would decide how supervisors are elected

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Kevin Kula and Larry Lacey handed over a box packed with 670 pages, almost all of them covered with signatures, to the Linn County Auditor’s Office on Thursday.

The more than 12,800 signatures on Kula’s petition call for an Aug. 1 special election on Linn County’s representation plan — which dictates how voters elect members to the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

Kula, of Coggon, and Lacey, of Center Point, have spent more than a year collecting signatures and finally handed in the petition Thursday, the final day to do so.

Kula said his hope is that voters carefully consider which of the three available representation plans they want in Linn County.

“I’d like to see the people of Linn County really look at these three plans and study them,” Kula said.

On the ballot, voters would select from three options:

l The current representation plan, which sees voters in each district voting for a supervisor who lives in that district.

l Another option would be for voters countywide to vote for supervisors who live within specific districts.

l A third plan would have all three supervisors elected at-large, with voters countywide voting on all the candidates and doing away with districts.

Rebecca Stonawski, deputy commissioner of elections with Linn County’s Auditor’s Office, said the office had verified 12,826 signatures Thursday afternoon.

The signatures remain available for review by the public, and a formal objection to the petition can be filed until June 8.

An objection would be investigated by a special committee consisting of the county auditor, treasurer and attorney.

If at least 11,710 signatures — 10 percent of the voters in the last countywide election — are verified and no objection if filed, the county will call for the special election, Stonawski said.

The county Auditor’s Office has estimated the election will cost about $250,000 total. An additional $50,000 will be spent to fast-track purchases of polling equipment needed to align with new state voter identification rules, Auditor Joel Miller has said.

Last November, following a separate Kula petition calling for a vote, Linn County voters chose to reduce the size of the county Board of Supervisors from five members to three.

In May, when it appeared the county might be sticking with the current representation plan, the Board of Supervisors created a temporary redistricting committee to map out the county for three supervisors.

However, if the petition forces an August election, that committee will hold off on drafting any maps until after a vote — as an at-large plan would eliminate the need for redistricting.

In November 2018, Linn County voters will select three supervisors to take office Jan. 2, 2019.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175;

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