IOWA CITY — The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will stay all Democratic for now after both incumbent Janelle Rettig and second-time candidate Pat Heiden defeated Republican Phil Hemingway on Tuesday.
Rettig, Heiden — who is the retired director of Oak Knoll retirement facility — and Hemingway — an Iowa City school board member — were running for the two supervisor seats on the ballot Tuesday, on a board that hasn’t seen a Republican win a regular election since 1958. The winners will join Supervisors Lisa Green-Douglass and Rod Sullivan on the board.
Heiden received the most votes, totaling 41,954, and Rettig just behind at 38,879. Hemingway received 21,109 votes.
The county saw a high voter turnout of more than 72 percent, or 68,163 people. That falls short of the 2016 presidential election, which drew a voter turnout of just over 84 percent.
In 2014, the last general election in a non-presidential year, Johnson County saw a turn out of just over 59 percent.
The fifth seat on the board is currently open after Supervisor Kurt Friese’s death last month. A panel of Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert, Recorder Kim Painter and Treasurer Tom Kriz will convene Thursday to decide whether to appoint someone to finish Friese’s term or hold a special election.
“It’s bee a rough couple of weeks and I just am grateful that the election is over,” said Rettig, who was elected to a third term. “I’m just really pleased that so many people showed up and voted. That’s just huge. ... It matters to me that people are engaged. It matters less that they voted for me.
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Rettig said one of the most pressing issues for Johnson County over her next term will be poverty. She cited the cost of living and food insecurities as concerns.
“I think local government in general needs to be focusing on poverty issues and helping people raise wages and get access to more affordable housing. I think that has to be on the top of the list,” Rettig said.
Additionally, Rettig said she has concern for managed care, child mental health services and balancing the budget.
Lina Murillo, 37, of Iowa City, said she voted for Heiden and Rettig.
“I think this (Johnson County) is one of the spaces in Iowa that is truly progressive,” she said.
The Johnson County’s supervisors earn a salary of $77,239 this fiscal year. Their responsibilities include approving county budgets and levying taxes, entering into contracts on behalf of the county and supervising the secondary roads system, among other responsibilities.
Heiden and Hemingway did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday night.