116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Mark Banowetz, an Ely Republican, is running for Linn County supervisor in the open District 1.
Banowetz, 64, is a former Ely City Council member and the owner of Cedar’s Edge Evergreen Market, a Christmas tree market.
Supervisor Stacey Walker, a Democrat, now represents the district but is not seeking re-election.
Banowetz said he is running for office because he enjoys helping other people succeed.
“I’m very proud of being able to say I live in Linn County. Linn County is a great place to live,” Banowetz said. “I want to help expand our mental health services even more, keep our community safe and supported as well as keep our property taxes low so more people can afford to move here and stay here.”
Banowetz spent nine years on the Ely City Council, six as mayor pro tem. In that time, the city took on streetscape and City Hall projects and built a new library.
Banowetz and his wife, Kathleen, have owned several businesses in Ely since returning to Iowa from Colorado in 2000. A Cedar Rapids native, Banowetz graduated from Regis High School and attended Kirkwood Community College.
If elected, he said he would bring local government and business experience to the job.
“I know the value of a dollar, and I’ve been involved in laws and policy,” Banowetz said. “I bring family values. I know people want more recreation: expanded bike trails and county parks, which we need more now than ever going through COVID. … But I’m not doing this because I need a job. I’m going to do a job. I’m going in so if you raise a family here, you’ll feel good about it.”
When asked about his views on utility-scale solar projects in Linn County, Banowetz said, “I would have to do more research to see what’s actually out there. Before I vote on something, I’d just want to make sure property owners are protected.”
Banowetz said he believes the Linn County Board of Supervisors should have five members instead of the current three.
“I’ve served on a lot of boards in my career and when you run a budget of over $150 million and you have three people there, I don’t think that’s enough check and balance. I am in favor of five. I didn’t want to see the county go to three back when it did,” he said.
“And if you want to get good people in there, there has to be a salary for people to leave their job and stability to go for the supervisor job. If people work hard, they make good money. If you have a supervisor that isn’t working hard, you vote them out.”
County supervisors will make $124,967 in the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The redrawn District 1 covers southern Linn County, including Ely and Fairfax.
“I know the whole area,” Banowetz said. “I have an education in agriculture, and I’m into farming so I understand the rural side. But being born and raised in Cedar Rapids, I understand the city, too. I feel like I’m more rounded and I can be the person to make conversation and find plans more acceptable for everybody.”
Banowetz is the fourth candidate to enter the District 1 race and the only Republican.
Three Democrats — Breanna Oxley, Kirsten Running-Marquardt and James Houser — will face each other in the June 7 primary. The winner advances to the
Oxley, 30, a Democrat and teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, announced her campaign in October. Oxley is the granddaughter of the county administration building’s namesake — the late Jean Oxley, the first woman to serve on the board and its longest-serving member.
Running-Marquardt, now the state representative in District 69, announced her campaign in February. She is 44 and has been a state legislator for 13 years.
Former Linn County Supervisor Houser, 68, announced his campaign in February. He was elected to the board six times, serving from 1990 to 2011 and 2015 to 2019.
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