Government

Johnson County Dems pick Royceann Porter as supervisor nominee

Union organizer says she'll campaign for affordable housing, livable wage

Royceann Porter speaks to a crowd in March 2017 on the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall. On Tuesday evening, Johnson County Democrats picked Porter to be their nominee in the Dec. 18 special election to fill a seat on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. The election will fill the vacancy created by the death of Supervisor Kirk Friese last month. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Royceann Porter speaks to a crowd in March 2017 on the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall. On Tuesday evening, Johnson County Democrats picked Porter to be their nominee in the Dec. 18 special election to fill a seat on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. The election will fill the vacancy created by the death of Supervisor Kirk Friese last month. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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TIFFIN — Johnson County Democrats have picked a political newcomer as their nominee for the county’s Board of Supervisors.

Royceann Porter, a 52-year-old union organizer for the Teamsters, was chosen during a county nominating convention Tuesday night at the Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin.

The delegates chose Porter over former county Supervisor Pat Harney, 76, who retired in 2016 after 16 years on the board, in a 109-42 vote.

Porter will appear on the ballot in the Dec. 18 special election to replace Supervisor Kurt Friese, who died last month. The term runs through 2020.

The Johnson County Republican Party will hold its nomination convention Saturday morning. Iowa City school board member Phil Hemingway, 58, who lost the Nov. 6 general election for supervisor to two Democrats, is a candidate for the GOP nomination.

Porter, who has lived in Johnson County for 27 years, said she will back issues such as affordable housing and livable wages during her campaign.

She called attention to the efforts by Johnson County supervisors to set a minimum wage higher than the state’s, which the Legislature rescinded by saying the state controlled the legal minimum wage.

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“Everything that the Board of Supervisors does overlaps with what I’ve been doing in the community,” Porter said. “The Legislature pushed us back down. But we continue to fight ... And all those people who said that they would agree to pay the $10.10 (minimum wage), we’re still knocking on those businesses and telling them ‘Hey, you need to pay that $10.10 and if you don’t, we won’t support you.’ ”

Though she’s never been elected for political office, Porter has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the Iowa City Community Police Review Board and the Coalition for Racial Justice steering committee.

Both Harney and Hemingway come from farming backgrounds and live in rural parts of the county. During his speech to the convention Tuesday evening, Harney expressed concern about a lack of rural representation on the board.

Porter responded, “If we’ve got a problem in Tiffin, if we’ve got a problem in North Liberty, if we’ve got a problem in Lone Tree, we need to sit down and talk about it. We need to be listening to everybody, and that’s what I plan on doing, no matter where you’re from.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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