NEWS

Pat Heiden, candidate for Johnson County Board of Supervisors

Pat Heiden
Pat Heiden

Name: Pat Heiden

Party: Democrat

Residence: Iowa City

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired executive director, Oaknoll Retirement Residence

Education: Mental Health Services Administration

Website: pat-heiden.com

What are the three most important issues in Johnson County, and how would you address them?

The three most important issues are not new and although there still is much to accomplish the county, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has made notable progress in each of these areas. I would address each my staying the course:

• Affordable housing: The county must continue to work in partnership with the cities and other stakeholders because I believe more affordable housing must be developed within the city limits and/or fringe areas.

• Livable wages: The county should continue to support the progress toward a livable wage in Johnson County.

• Mental health care: It is exciting that the Behavioral Health Urgency Care Center (BHUCC) will open in 18 months.

What issues would you like to see the board push for in the coming two to four years?

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This aligns with the previous question and the 3 issues I identified above. Closely connected with affordable housing is transportation. Often families who need access to affordable housing also experience challenges with reliable transportation. Thus, it is imperative they have access to public transportation for their livelihood and quality of life.

Many stakeholders contributed to the development of the BHUCC and the supervisors must continue to lead the effort through completion.

Linn County has reduced its Board of Supervisors from five to three, each representing a county district. Do you think Johnson County should reduce the size of the Board of Supervisors? Why or why not?

I adamantly oppose reducing the size of the board. This county is one of the largest and fastest growing in the State with much diversity. Having five members on the board gives the constituents more representation insuring that all voices are heard. In contrast, reducing the size reduces that representation considerably, stifles robust conversation and potentially eliminates differing opinions and ideas.

Currently, all of Johnson County’s elected offices are filled by democrats. Are constituents with more conservative views given any say in how the county is run?

The most important responsibility of a supervisor is to represent all the people of Johnson County and that each has a voice and the opportunity to be heard. This does not just apply to different party affiliations. Just as important is to be sure minority positions and marginal populations are represented, heard and respected. Supervisors must foster an environment in the boardroom and beyond that is open and encourages honest discussion.

How well does county government work with city governments within the county? Are there efficiencies that can be achieved with intergovernmental agreements?

There are a number of 28E (intergovernmental) agreements that exist between the county and municipalities that have been successful over the years. These agreements are important and do create some efficiencies for the benefit of both city and county. While continuing to pursue these, I also believe we must focus just as much on better communication, create more opportunities for open dialogue and cooperation between the municipalities and the county. We can and must do better in this area.

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Should the county push the envelope with state matters or with multi-jurisdictional issues? When should the county work with other entities and when should the county go its own way?

The idea of local control is appealing but the reality is that we do not live in a bubble. That does not mean we shouldn’t lead whenever there’s the opportunity. We have done this in the past. As a county, we committed to promoting regular and incremental wage increases and we continue to support the process of collective bargaining.

If you’re forced to cut the county budget, where do you look for savings? Why?

From experience, cutting budgets is difficult but, at times, necessary. For me the priority would always be people over property. Prioritizing must involve discussions with stake holders and department heads before informed, thoughtful and deliberate decisions are made.

Do you think the county should increase spending on rural road maintenance?

There is a total of 900 miles of road in the county. Road maintenance and repair is a priority to insure public safety. In 2016, the board approved a $46 million/36 project five year plan that will be complete in FY20/21.

Would you favor the regionalization of some services? If so, which ones?

I would favor regionalization of some services. One example is transportation. It is important municipalities have robust services and there are advantages of interconnectivity between counties such as the reduction of our carbon footprint. I, also, favor regionalization of clean air/water initiatives. We must work with our sister counties to find solutions. Mental health services have been regionalized. There have been challenges and successes that are continually monitored and adjusted for.

How would you communicate with your constituents?

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I am approachable, available and anxious to have conversations with those whom I serve and represent. Most important is that people feel acknowledged, listened to, and their opinions validated. Communicating through social media, listening sessions and having an open-door policy are important. It is equally important to meet people where they are and I’ve already enjoyed attending county, community and neighborhood celebrations, gatherings and events.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.