Government

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller to run for supervisor

Miller said he aims to build on communication and fiscal responsibility

Joel Miller, Linn County Auditor, speaks to county employees and members of the public at the State of Linn County address at the Kirkwood Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The event is put on annually by the League of Women Voters. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Joel Miller, Linn County Auditor, speaks to county employees and members of the public at the State of Linn County address at the Kirkwood Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The event is put on annually by the League of Women Voters. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Joel Miller, the Linn County auditor since 2007, will file papers Monday to run for the District 2 county supervisor seat.

Miller said he has amassed more than 500 signatures to get his name on the Nov. 6 ballot as an independent, or No Party, candidate.

He will face Supervisor Ben Rogers, a Democrat who’s been on the Board of Supervisors since 2008.

No Republican has filed nomination papers for the seat. The filing deadline for county candidates is Aug. 29.

The district covers most of the northeast and southeast quadrants in Cedar Rapids and the cities of Hiawatha and Robins.

Miller, 63, who late last year changed his party affiliation from Democrat to No Party, said, if elected, he will work to develop a better relationship between the county and the cities in the county — chiefly, the Cedar Rapids City Council — and with the Iowa Legislature.

Miller cited tensions between some supervisors and the Cedar Rapids council over creating a position to carry out recommendations of the Safe Equitable and Thriving Communities, or SET, task force, which studied youth gun violence in the wake of a series of fatal shootings.

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He also noted the Legislature passed a law prohibiting some uses of lease-purchase agreements, a bill developed in direct response to Linn County’s recent use of such an agreement to build the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Public Health and Youth Development Services building.

“We lost good will. You can’t put a price on what we lost,” Miller told The Gazette, adding that he hopes to build communication between local and state entities. “You’ve got to talk to them. You have to want to collaborate.”

Miller also criticized current supervisors for being fiscally irresponsible — citing the roughly $31 million agreement for the public health building and the $7 million purchase of about 485 acres from the Sutherland Dows Family Trust.

Miller also said he would strive to attend every board meeting and be an attentive supervisor.

“When I am elected supervisor, my focus will be on ensuring that Linn County’s government runs as efficiently as possible,” Miller said in a statement.

Before Miller’s 11 years as county auditor, he was on the Robins City Council for six years and also served as the city’s mayor.

If elected to the board, Miller would have to vacate his position as county auditor.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors is being reduced from five members to three in January, following the results of a 2016 vote.

Having three districts instead of three meant incumbents seeking re-election had to run against each other.

In District 1, Supervisor Stacey Walker beat fellow Democrat and longtime Supervisor James Houser in the June primary. Walker at this time is unopposed in the general election for the seat that represents southwest Cedar Rapids and parts of the northwest and southeast quadrants.

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In District 3, Republican Supervisor John Harris, a Republican, and Supervisor Brent Oleson, a Democrat, are vying to represent the district that covers Marion, Mount Vernon and most of rural Linn County.

Harris is a two-term supervisor and former mayor of Palo. Oleson is a Marion attorney who’s been on the board since 2008.

The supervisors elected in Districts 1 and 2 will have four-year terms, while the District 3 supervisor will serve two years. The arrangement will maintain staggered terms for supervisors.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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