Government

Walker beats Houser in Linn County supervisor District 1 race

Stacey Walker
Stacey Walker
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County voters have selected the Board of Supervisors’ youngest member Stacey Walker over James Houser, who has spent a collective two decades on the board.

Preliminary voting results for Tuesday’s primary show Walker, 30, beating Houser, 64, in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the county’s District 1 seat. The vote marks the first culling of incumbent candidates for the board as it reduces from five members to three at the end of the year.

Walker, who in 2016 became Linn County’s first African-American supervisor, said Tuesday’s results — Walker received 3,682 votes, or 66 percent, to Houser’s 1,608 votes, or nearly 29 percent, with all 86 precincts reporting — helps show that voters are ready for a change on the board.

“I think what it demonstrates is that the voters are ready for a new generation of leadership. While I am appreciative to Mr. Houser’s many decades of service, the times are changing and the times require elected officials who are going to be proactive, out in the community and able to tackle hard issues,” Walker said Tuesday.

Votes are unofficial until next week’s canvas.

 Houser, who served on the board from 1990 to 2010 and again since 2015, said he was proud of the years he’s spent on the board, noting that, “I gave the county my best until the very end.”

“I had a good run,” he said, adding that he’s not sure what the future holds after his term expires at the end of the year.

Houser did express some disappointment in one of Walker’s campaign mailers, which appeared to take jabs at Houser’s longevity on the board. The ad included an image of a fresh green apple next to an old moldy one with the words, “Your choice is simple.”

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“I was disappointed,” Houser said after the vote. “I said I don’t run my campaigns like that. I always run a positive campaign. I’ve done that my whole career ... but who knows if that had any bearing on the election.”

Walker said he since has apologized to Houser for the ad, noting that the intent was to showcase the difference between the two candidates.

“Out campaign thought it was important to demonstrate the contrast between my candidacy and Mr. Houser’s. I think our message was sort of lost in the images that accompanied that mailer. ... I sent Mr. Houser an email expressing my regret, and I wish there was a better way we could have conveyed that.”

With no Republican in the District 1 race, Walker could run unopposed in November.

“We’re going to continue to build a strong campaign. I look forward to and welcome anyone else who wants to enter the race, but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Walker said.

In addition to Walker, Supervisors John Harris, Brent Oleson and Ben Rogers also are running for another term.

Republican Harris and Democrat Oleson will meet in 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.

After the November election, the winners in District 1 and 2 will serve four-year terms, while the District 3 supervisor will be up again in 2020 for a vote to a four-year term, to create staggered term limits for a three-member board.

Linn County supervisors make close to $104,000 annually.

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

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