Incumbents secure easy victory in Johnson County Board of Supervisors race; Brad Kunkel is county's new sheriff

IOWA CITY — Johnson County’s roster of elected officials will look largely the same in 2021 with one notable exception — a new sheriff.

There was only one contested county race on Election Day — for three seats on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors — and the incumbents held onto their seats by a comfortable margin.

» LIVE RESULTS: Results for Linn and Johnson counties, plus how they voted in national, state elections

“Hopefully, it just says that people are satisfied and feel good about the representation they have,” said Supervisor Rod Sullivan, one of the incumbents. “I’m hoping that’s the case. I want that to be case.”

Supervisors Lisa Green-Douglass and Royceann Porter also were re-elected.

This will be Porter’s first full term on the board after winning a special election in December 2018.

Green-Douglass will enter her second full term on the board — she joined in January 2016 after a special election.

Sullivan has served on the board since 2004 and is in the final months of his third stint as board chairman.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert, who has served in that role since 2012, ran uncontested.


Johnson County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Brad Kunkel was elected sheriff. He will succeed Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, who is retiring at the end of the year after 16 years as sheriff.

Kunkel ran uncontested in Tuesday’s election after besting Al Fear in the June Democratic primary.

He joined the sheriff’s office as a jail deputy in 2001, was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and moved to investigations in 2018.

Tuesday’s results meant the third time was not the charm for Republican Phil Hemingway, who ran for a supervisor’s seat, seeking to break the Democrats’ hold on elected positions in Johnson County. Hemingway had two previous unsuccessful runs for a supervisor spot.

A Republican has not been elected to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in a general election since 1958, and none of Johnson County’s elected officials are Republicans. Republican John Etheredge joined the board in March 2013 after a special election but did not win the general election that followed.

Hemingway — a former member of the Iowa City Community school board — said he was hoping to add diversity to the board and represent farmers, rural residents and those from a blue-collar background who don’t trust the board.

Sullivan, Green-Douglass and Porter successfully withheld a primary challenge from Dean Phinney in the June primary election.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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