Guest Columnist

Houser: Experience will continue to improve lives

**ARCHIVIST'S NOTE 5-31-17: He is now going by
**ARCHIVIST'S NOTE 5-31-17: He is now going by "James Houser", not "Jim Houser". Linn County Supervisor Jim Houser walks past the Linn County Courthouse as he talks about flood protection measures for the Linn County Courthouse and the Linn County Jail and other county buildings that are in the flood zone in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

As I reflect on my position as Linn County Supervisor, I think an appropriate way to look at my service to the citizens of Linn County is in terms of past, present, and future. Although some of my service transcends all three, I hope to give you an idea of who am I, what I have done as supervisor, and what lies ahead.

Past — Over my 23 years as supervisor, I have been board liaison to all Linn County departments. I was involved in protecting Linn County infrastructure during the floods of both 2008 and 2016, including an escape off May’s Island in my own Suburban in 2008 as the waters of the Cedar River lapped at my running boards. After the flood of 2008, I was involved in the design and contracting of all Linn County buildings damaged by the flood, including the Linn County Courthouse, jail, sheriff’s office, juvenile justice center, community services building, and the Jean Oxley Public Service Center.

Present — I presently serve on the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, Iowa Work Force Development Board, Area Ambulance Board, Emergency Management Commission Board, Highway 30 Coalition, and am the Linn County Board’s representative to the Veteran’s Commission. I recently stood in solidarity with union workers at the Iowa State Capitol as the Iowa Legislature stripped public sector unions, including teachers, state, and county workers, of their collective bargaining rights. This year I voted for adding six new sheriff’s deputies to the sheriff’s department. I supported the addition of 300 new acres of land to Squaw Creek Park, and we passed a $40 million water and land legacy bond for our county park system. I supported the building of the new public health and child/youth development center, which was celebrated at a groundbreaking ceremony on May 18. All this has been accomplished while maintaining or reducing Linn County property taxes.

Future — I am excited about Linn County’s future! My goals this term are continuing to fight for an increase in minimum wage, flood wall protection, and creating an access center for crisis intervention for people suffering from mental health issues and chemical dependency. I am greatly concerned about Medicaid services being transferred from state- and county-run systems to for-profit insurance companies. I will continue to lobby for these issues at the Statehouse. I have recently been appointed to the Linn County Steering Committee for opiate addiction with the goal of reducing deaths in Linn County from opiate overdose. Last year alone we lost 27 Linn County citizens. Even one is too many.

On a personal note, I am a native Cedar Rapidian and continue to be an active member of the Linn County community. I am a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church, past Jefferson High School band parent member, and a 45-year member of the Sheet Metal Local 263. I am a six-year past board member of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, and a 31-year member of the Antique Automobile Club of America — Cedar Rapids Region. I also serve as a Linn County Reserve Deputy Sheriff with 38 years of service, and am a 15-year member of the U.S. Selective Service Board serving Linn County.

I have been endorsed by Cedar Rapids Building Trades and the Hawkeye Labor Council, which represents over 30 different unions in the Cedar Rapids Area.

I am married to Dr. Arleen Zahn-Houser, a family physician practicing at Mercy Care Marion. She also serves Linn County as a deputy medical examiner and is medical director of the Cedar Rapids Treatment Center for opioid addiction. We have 4 children — Amy, Scott, Brent and Brooke.

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I plan to use my 23 years of experience to continue to improve the lives of Linn County residents. I ask for your support and vote in the June 5 primary election.

• James Houser is a candidate for Linn County Supervisor.

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