116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Mark Banowetz, 64, of Ely, is seeking election to the District 1 seat of the three-member Board of Supervisors. Banowetz, a Republican, faces challenger Kirsten Running-Marquardt in the District 1 race in the Nov. 8 general election. Banowetz owns Cedars Edge Evergreen Market and served nine years on the Ely City Council, with three as mayor pro tem.
We posed a set of questions about the office to all of the Supervisor candidates. Below is the transcript of Banowetz’s answers. Polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What do you think are the three most important issues the county is facing? What would you do to address them?
Banowetz: 1) Frequency of violent crimes, community safety, and support of law enforcement. 2) Efficient use of tax dollars and reasonable budgeting. 3) Accessibility of mental wellness & health options and support. I’m hesitant to address solutions until a full picture has been established on these issues.
Do you support the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines? Why or why not?
Banowetz: No. The use or threat of eminent domain, or the taking of property, outside of which the laws are already written in Linn County is government overreach.
If you’re forced to cut the county’s budget, where do you look for savings? Why?
Banowetz: Without properly analyzing the past budget over the last 3-5 years, I could not and would not confidently recommend budget cuts in any specific areas.
How well does the county work with other government entities within the county today (i.e. City of Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids Schools). Would joint meetings between governing bodies help or do you have other ideas to improve the working relationship?
Banowetz: Cooperation and joint meetings between the county and other government entities, when done well, can improve the efficiency of tax payer dollars, by reducing the replication of programs and increase possible implementation of new programs that would positively impact the residents of Linn County.
How would you assess the long-term planning and vision of the county? Are there areas that you think should be planned for?
Banowetz: Long term planning needs to be continually assessed and revisited in order to be intentional about ensuring that our small and rural communities have a voice to advocate for the resources needed to grow and expand and keep/make them viable. This would include industrial, agricultural, and residential entities.
There's been conversation about the number of Supervisors (5 members or 3 members). How many Supervisors are necessary and why?
Banowetz: I believe five supervisors are absolutely necessary to ensure the proper representation of approximately 230,000 residents, the proper use of the $154 million budget and ensure accountability within the board of supervisors.
When it comes to mental health, what do you see as major needs for Linn County? What does the county need in mental health resources and what should it do to encourage people to seek those services?
Banowetz: The rise in mental health issues such as domestic disputes, suicide rates, illegal and prescription drug use, COVID long haul, and many more has led me to believe we need to be much more forward thinking in our pursuit of accessibility of mental health resources and programming. This would include collaborating with local law enforcement and mental health agencies to understand where they are seeing needs for those struggling with mental health and ensuring that the residents of Linn County have quick and easy access to services that they need, when they need them.
What should the county's role be when it comes to affordable housing programs? Should there be partnerships with cities and other organizations? What other programs could the county implement to assist residents in need?
Banowetz: We’re asking the wrong question. The question needs to be “What can we do as a county to help empower the residents fo Linn County and alleviate or reduce the need for more affordable housing programs?” Let’s figure out the core issues, set goals and utilize current programming to manage the affordable housing issues more effectively.
County supervisors have recently approved two large solar energy projects. Do you agree with this approval? Why or why not? How would you weigh the nearby property owners rights against larger benefit if asked to vote on a future development?
Banowetz: The approval by two supervisors on these projects did not take into consideration Linn County resident concerns, the loss of crop land, loss of agricultural jobs and income for local farmers, as well as prohibiting the future growth of Palo in all directions. Very little consideration was given to the residents of Linn County in this decision and the preference was given to the out of county/state investors and solar companies. Consideration of our own residents, in future decisions, should be the number one priority.
Should Linn County financially support the City of Cedar Rapids flood control system? Why or why not?
Banowetz: Once again, very vague question. There needs to be cooperation and dialogue between all cities that could be affected by flooding in the future, not just Cedar Rapids.