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Linn County Offices to be named for county's first female elected official

Linn County Board of Supervisors (including Oxley) toured the office building before it had been remodeled to house coun
Linn County Board of Supervisors (including Oxley) toured the office building before it had been remodeled to house county offices in 1979. Photo shot on October 10, 1979. (Gazette file photo)

The Linn County Supervisors will name the county’s renovated office building after Jean Oxley, the first woman to be elected to Linn County office and the longest-tenured Linn supervisor of all time.

“I was very humbled that they would think about that,” Oxley, 84, said. “I was there when we decided to move to the Administrative Office Building, so I felt greatly honored.”

Oxley was elected in 1972 when she was 47. She served until 1996. A staunch Democrat, she pioneered in-home services for the mentally disabled in Linn County to help prevent disabled people from ending up in institutions. She also pushed for the Juvenile Detention Center and the Youth Shelter in order to separate juveniles from adult inmates.

She built a reputation as a champion of the elderly, young and disabled. She grew up in Center Point and graduated from the University of Iowa, where she majored in sociology. Oxley, 84, now lives in Cedar Rapids.

The Administrative Office Building, 930 First St. SW, will be named the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center. It will appear in the phone book as the Linn County Public Service Center.

The county will go seek bids on the building’s roughly $11 million renovation in June, supervisors hope.

The idea to name the building after Oxley came from Brent Oleson, the sole Republican on the Board of Supervisors. The other four supervisors endorsed the idea, and the vote was unanimous.

Jim Houser, the one current supervisor who served with Oxley, called her a “mentor” who took him “under her wing” when he started as a supervisor.

Lu Barron, who replaced Oxley in 1996, called Oxley a “true pioneer.”“This would be a good tribute to a fabulous woman,” Barron said.

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