116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Democratic incumbent Ben Rogers is facing a challenge in the Nov. 8 election from Republican Brett Mason for the District 2 seat on the Linn County Board of Supervisors.
Rogers, 42, was first elected supervisor in 2008 when the county board expanded from three members to five.
City: Cedar Rapids
Occupation: Linn County Supervisor
Former Political Offices: First elected to supervisor in 2008
Mason, 63, is an entrepreneur and computer consultant and former chairman of the Linn County Republicans.
City: Cedar Rapids
Occupation: Entrepreneur/computer consultant
Former Political Offices: Former Chairman of Linn County GOP
District 2 covers all of northeast and southeast Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. The district no longer encompasses Robins or Monroe Township, which moved into District 3 after redistricting earlier this year. Only voters who live in District 2 can vote in the race.
County supervisors are paid $124,967 annually. Terms are for four years.
Rogers was one of the two Linn County supervisors who earlier this year approved rezoning requests for three utility-scale solar projects near Coggon and Palo. The decisions followed public meetings at which residents of both communities spoke against the projects.
The county’s three supervisors also recently approved a moratorium for up to one year on utility-scale solar projects, saying they want to review the current ordinance.
Rogers said he will continue to support utility-scale solar projects, in general.
“My goals for the moratorium are one, for it to be short-term, and two, for it to bolster our ordinance, specifically for battery electric storage systems, and to have greater community input on vegetative screenings or other best practices,” he said.
Mason said he is not against utility-scale solar but believes decisions about them need to be made with more community input, which he felt did not happen during the meetings on the Coggon and Palo projects.
“I hope a moratorium addresses the needs of all the residents of the county, not just those in favor,” Mason said. “I hope it provides mediation between residents who don’t want solar and residents who do and addresses setbacks and screening.”
Both candidates said improving mental health services will be one of the top issues over the next four years in Linn County.
In the first year since the opening of the Linn County Mental Health Access Center, more than 70 percent of its patients said in discharge surveys they would not have sought services if not for the new center.
The center opened in March 2021 and offers services to help people with mental health needs. Linn County supervisors provided $3.5 million in startup funding for the center, which is in the building that formerly housed Linn County Public Health, 501 13th St. NW in Cedar Rapids.
Rogers said he would like to see more stability and predictability in mental health funding from the state.
“While we have a lot of services here, it can be challenging for people to access them, and Iowa Medicaid rates don’t help cover the cost,” Rogers said.
“I’m also working on a youth assessment center, which is somewhat similar to our access center, but provides different services for youth and families in crisis,” he added. “It would be in collaboration with schools, juvenile courts, service providers and law enforcement to bring services located in one facility and create a robust referral system to help people access services.”
Mason said he sees the Access Center as addressing a “tremendous need” in Linn County but sees room for improvement.
“We need to be working with our cities on mental health and transportation,” Mason said. “It would be great if there was a late-night bus route that stopped at the Access Center for people who need it.”
How many supervisors?
Voters have changed the number of supervisors on Linn County’s board twice in recent years. The board increased from three to five board members in 2006, and was reduced back to three member in 2016. In both cases, the size of the board was put on the ballot by voter-led petitions.
Rogers has previously said he’d like the board to again have five members but that the decision — as in the past — is up to voters.
“We are a growing community with enhanced challenges and opportunities that were better addressed with five members,” Rogers said. “Three-member boards work, but five provides better representation and helps not only the workload, but allows for supervisors to specialize in certain areas.”
Mason agreed, but said, “It’s up to the voters. Voters chose three, and we’re working with three. If they choose five, we will work with five. We simply need supervisors that can work together. The number isn't the issue. It's the attitude of the supervisors. It's a matter of collaboration to solve problems.”
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