CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Board of Supervisors District 2 race pits Democratic Supervisor Ben Rogers against Auditor Joel Miller, who is running as a no-party candidate.
While both have served the county in different capacities for about 10 years, their campaigns in the November election are quite different. Rogers is hoping to build on his progress as a supervisor while Miller argues for change.
Rogers said during a meeting with The Gazette editorial board that he is running for another term to continue his focus on fiscal responsibility, enhancing customer service for residents and expanding services in mental health and substance abuse.
“One of the issues I’m very passionate about are issues related to mental health, disabilities and substance abuse, as well as issues related to our community’s most vulnerable. That’s one of the most important functions I think for county government,” Rogers said, noting his efforts to advance the opening of the county’s first behavioral health access center.
Miller said he would like to see more fiscal responsibility on the board.
“I’m running for supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the big spenders on the Board of Supervisors,” Miller said during a meeting with the editorial board.
Miller said he would achieve that by not allowing any new debt except for flood protections, would collaborate more with cities and school districts and would focus more on county daily operations.
Another area of focus the candidates differ is on the board’s decision to use a lease-purchase agreement — rather than traditional bidding — to construct a public health and youth development services building.
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Miller, who said he didn’t necessarily feel a new public health building is needed, has argued that the agreement could saddle the county with a higher price tag than competitive bidding.
“I think this building was ill-conceived and yes, it’s going to serve a function when it’s done, but did we need to spend $31 million on that?” Miller asked.
Rogers argued that competitive bidding comes with the potential for costly change orders and the county’s chosen agreement helped guarantee the best possible structure from local builders.
“We felt that a lease-purchase gave greater financial control to the taxpayers because we don’t take control of it until it meets all our specifications,” Rogers said.
Rogers has served on the board since 2009, while Miller has served as Linn County Auditor since 2007. Miller late last year changed his party affiliation from Democrat to no party, arguing the position should be nonpartisan. If Miller wins the election, he would forfeit his position as county auditor with two years left on his term.
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