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Early voting opens for Johnson County Board of Supervisors June 8 special election
Three running to fill seat vacated by Janelle Rettig
IOWA CITY — Early voting is underway to determine who will fill a recently vacated Johnson County Board of Supervisors seat.
Early voting began Wednesday in the race to determine who will replace Janelle Rettig, who served on the board since 2009. Rettig resigned suddenly in April to focus on her health. Later that month, a trio of county officials voted to host a special election rather than appoint someone to fill the remainder of Rettig’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2022.
At their respective party conventions, Republicans nominated Phil Hemingway, 61, of rural Johnson County. Local Democrats nominated Jon Green, 38, of Lone Tree. Brian Campbell, 60, of rural Iowa City is on the ballot as an independent.
The election is June 8.
Brian Campbell, independent
Campbell, a lifelong Iowa City resident, sees himself as someone who can bridge what he describes as a divide between rural and urban county residents.
“There’s historically been a distrust between rural and urban people,” he said. “Because of my positioning in the city and out in the county, I have a lot of trust between both groups. I think that’s something I can use to bridge that divide.”
Campbell is a two-time East Lucas Township Trustee and driver for Johnson County Seats. The former newspaper editor is also a four-year delegate for the Johnson County Democratic Central Committee and a member of the committee to elect Supervisor Pat Heiden in 2016 and 2018. He describes himself as someone who can manage a budget and personnel, as well as research topics.
“I’m well-informed on what’s going on down there,” Campbell said of the supervisors’ offices. “I talk with the supervisors pretty regularly. We’ve known each other through the party.”
Campbell said he sees coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and establishing broadband internet as two of the biggest issues facing the county.
Jon Green, Democrat
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created hardships for countless people, Green sees coming out of the pandemic as an opportunity to “reset” and rethink “some of our assumptions about what government is for.”
“I think it’s imperative that we be thoughtful and impactful coming out of this crisis,” Green said.
Green, an IT systems administrator and former Lone Tree mayor, said he wants to target county residents most in need to ensure funds received through federal coronavirus relief packages are best used.
“I firmly believe we can’t just put this pot of money out, have them come fill out the paperwork and we’ll disperse it that way,” he said, arguing that populations with language and technological barriers should be prioritized.
Using federal coronavirus funds to improve infrastructure is another county need, Green said. He also wants to see broadband throughout the county in order to help residents become better connected and productive.
Outspoken and locally known for his effort to eliminate his own job as mayor to create a city manager position in Lone Tree, Green said he’d bring a “little different background” to the board.
“I think it’s important we have geographic diversity,” he said. “I also probably would be the most progressive member of the board.”
Phil Hemingway, Republican
This will be Hemingway’s fourth attempt at a board seat and he said his “driving force” remains addressing the urban-rural divide on the board.
Hemingway said there is a “true lack of representation of the whole county and specifically, a real rural disconnect with a lot of people on the Board of Supervisors.”
A lifelong Johnson County resident and former Iowa City Community School District board member, Hemingway said he would address wasteful spending and work to address regulatory burdens placed on county businesses and farmers.
“In other counties, people are able to do things easier than in Johnson County,” he said. “It’s got to be a level playing field across the state.”
If elected, Hemingway said he would accept the salary the supervisors received when he first ran in 2018 and would donate the remainder. He would not accept a raise while on the board, he said.
“We need diversity of thought,” Hemingway said. “We need diversity of ideas. We need someone who is going to audit the books and be a check on spending.”
Drive-thru early voting at the Auditor’s Office continues until 5 p.m. June 7. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 8.
The county’s five supervisors are paid $84,836 a year.
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