Linn County Supervisor District 1 covers southern Cedar Rapids.
Name: Stacey Walker
Residence: Cedar Rapids
Occupation: Linn County supervisor
Education: Bachelor’s in political science from the University of Iowa, 2010.
What are the three most important issues in Linn County, and how would you address them?
• The cost of the proposed flood wall is over a half-billion dollars and would take over a decade to be completed. A multi-jurisdictional commission should be created to give all stakeholders a role in the planning.
• The best anti-poverty programs call for sustained investment at the neighborhood level. They address housing, economic opportunities, education and safety in a coordinated effort. This is the goal of the SET Task Force recommendations.
• Given that the county’s caseworker program for individuals with developmental disabilities has been eviscerated by Gov. Reynolds, counties must now work to pair families and individuals with nonprofits that provide services that supplement the managed care organizations (MCOs).
What issues would you like to see the board push for in the coming two to four years?
The board should be partners in efforts to increase affordable housing in our community. Affordable housing is not just for individuals living below the federal poverty level, it is for new graduates, young families and the elderly. The board should build support for corporate adoption of progressive hiring practices to help employ underutilized populations. The board must remain committed to interrupting poverty.
The size of the board will reduce from five members to three at the start of 2019, how does this impact the board? How would having a three-member board change your approach as a supervisor?
The reduction of the board from five members to three will make governing more difficult. Board members will be unable to speak to one another about important issues without violating public meeting laws. We may lose ideological diversity, and rural communities will have less of a voice. I will empower staff to attend more commission meetings to help with fact-finding and tracking the pulse of the community. It is likely, the new Board will move more slowly as it hashes out major policy.
What should the county’s role in flood protection be? Should the county pursue flood protection measures and, if so, how would you do so?
The county most certainly should be involved in flood protection and mitigation efforts. I have proposed that the County join with the City of Cedar Rapids in forming a multi-jurisdictional commission to address flood protection. I would support putting a bond referendum on the ballot to pay for some portion of a flood wall.
How well does county government work with city governments within the county? Are there efficiencies that can be achieved with intergovernmental agreements?
Linn County works well with its counterparts in municipal government. From time to time, disagreements in policy might arise, but for the most part, they are handled above board. Surely, we can always find ways to be more efficient, and when those opportunities are made apparent, governments tend to be agreeable to change.
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?
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Counties have an obligation to their residents and sometimes this means that their policy decisions will come into conflict with the wishes of the state Legislature. If states can be laboratories for democracy for the federal government, then counties and cities can do this for state government. The fact that several counties around the state opted to raise their minimum wage was a good thing, as it signaled to legislators in the Des Moines that income inequality is a pressing issue.
If you’re forced to cut the county budget, where do you look for savings? Why?
This is a tough hypothetical, as managing a budget is one of the most important functions of a policymaker and should only happen when given a full picture of the economy. The county must maintain services for the vulnerable. We must see to it that rural communities receive essential services. We must make sure that law enforcement and the basic operations of government are sustained. After this we can then resort to our budgeting for outcomes practice to determine where we might find savings.
Do you think the county should increase spending on rural road maintenance?
Rural road maintenance is perhaps one of the services most closely associated with counties. While I would rank our county engineer and Secondary Roads Department as one of the best, it is likely that our maintenance efforts could always improve. However, before committing to increased spending, I would want a more thorough understanding of our deficiencies and a detailed plan of how additional funding would be used.
Would you favor the regionalization of some services? If so, which ones?
We are the second largest county in the state and while transportation is improving for our larger cities, there’s still work to be done in our smaller communities. I applaud the efforts of a new bus service to run between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. After the pilot process for this service concludes, I trust it will be a good starting point for conversations around future development of broader transportation lanes across the region.
How would you communicate with your constituents?
The Board of Supervisors does a great job communicating with constituents through formal channels, however I have tried to be even more accessible often communicating through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and campaign email accounts. While I have decided not to offer my personal cellphone number to the public, constituents can always reach me or staff by calling my office.