Familiar faces in special election for Johnson County Board of Supervisors

Pat Harney, Phil Hemingway join Royceann Porter in race

Pat Harney
Pat Harney

IOWA CITY — The Johnson County Board of Supervisors race will see two familiar faces — Pat Harney and Phil Hemingway.

A former supervisor, Harney will run against community organizer Royceann Porter for the Democratic nomination. Hemingway, who lost his bid for one of two board seats in the Nov. 6 general election, is vying to be the Republican nominee.

The winner of the Dec. 18 special election will fill the remainder of the term of Supervisor Kurt Friese, who died last month. The at-large seat has a term that lasts through 2020.

Harney, 76, retired in 2016 after 16 years on the board. After Friese’s death, he said he got a number of calls from county residents encouraging him to run again.

“It’s budget time and I could step in. And I’m sure some things have changed but I could fill that process very easily with my background,” Harney said, adding he doesn’t intend to run again after the term, as of now. “It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t. I don’t know what’s down there two years down the road. But I would find that very doubtful.”

Harney said the shaping of the county’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center will be a priority for the board in the immediate future. The board should also be supporting the creation low-income housing, financially or otherwise, Harney said.

“The county should contribute toward those housing needs in the communities but at the same time, let the communities run that under their purview. They have housing departments and management experience. I think they should do it. The county should not do it,” Harney said.


Hemingway, 58, a current Iowa City Community School Board member, just wrapped up his last campaign when he lost hid first bid for supervisor to Democrats Pat Heiden and Janelle Rettig during last week’s general election. He received 21,109 votes compared to Heiden’s 41,954 and Rettig’s 38,879.

“When I ran in school elections, each time I ran I did a little better and I was ultimately successful. We’re talking about bluer than blue Johnson County. For a Republican in a hotly contested gubernatorial and very active midterm election, I thought the votes that I received ... is extremely humbling,” Hemingway said. “It’s hard to look at that many people coming out and voting for you as being unsuccessful.”

Hemingway said rural roads, mental health resources, better representation of rural residents and commitment to agriculture are all important issues to him.

“The reasons I ran the first time are still valid,” Hemingway said. “I’m still interested in being a part of the decision-making process in the county, and I think my concerns and issues that I voiced are not being represented by anyone else who is on there or has contemplated running.”

County political parties must select nominees for the special election before the Nov. 26 candidate filing deadline. Independent candidates must submit a petition with 250 or more signatures to be on the ballot.

The winner of the special election would join Supervisors Janelle Rettig, Lisa Green-Douglass and Rod Sullivan. Supervisor Mike Carberry’s term expires at the end of the year, and supervisor-elect Pat Heiden will take over in January.

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