Staff Editorial

Gazette endorses candidates for supervisor in Linn and Johnson

A tough choice in Johnson County; an easy one in Linn County

Voters fill out their ballots at a Linn County polling station in Cedar Rapids on Monday, October 5, 2020. (Nick Rohlman
Voters fill out their ballots at a Linn County polling station in Cedar Rapids on Monday, October 5, 2020. (Nick Rohlman/Freelance)

Among more than a dozen races in which we’re making endorsements this year, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors presents the most difficult choice.

All four candidates — three incumbent Democrats and one Republican challenger — would be good board members, but only three seats are up for election this year.

Phil Hemingway, a Republican nominee making his third run for the Board of Supervisors, is a former Iowa City school board member and a longtime watchdog of the school district’s finances. He vows to bring that same level of scrutiny to county government. Hemingway has a professional background in agriculture and skilled trades that largely is missing from local elected office.

The Gazette editorial board endorses Democrats Lisa Green-Douglass, Royceann Porter and Rod Sullivan for Johnson County supervisor, and Democrat John Stuelke for Linn County supervisor.

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While Hemingway would be a valuable addition to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors (and we appreciate him being the only Republican willing to meet with us this election cycle), we find no fault with the incumbents to necessitate a change.

Accordingly, The Gazette editorial board endorses Democrats Lisa Green-Douglass, Royceann Porter and Rod Sullivan.

• Green-Douglass is seeking her second full term on the board. A resident of rural North Liberty, Green-Douglass has an important perspective as the only supervisor living outside Iowa City, the county’s urban center. She lists mental health access and anti-hunger programs among her top priorities for the next term.

• Royceann Porter is seeking her first full term on the board. In 2018, she won a special election to become the first Black woman elected to Johnson County office. Porter’s expertise on racial justice, backed by a long record of activism in the community, is a vital asset for the board at this important moment.

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• Sullivan is seeking his fifth term on the board after first being elected in 2004. He has a wide breadth of knowledge about county governance that serves constituents well. Although as board chairman Sullivan sometimes lets public discussions among board members grow hostile, we hope he will work to improve the climate in the coming term.

Linn County Board of Supervisors

In the Linn County Board of Supervisors election, The Gazette editorial board endorses John Stuelke. Louis Zumbach, the Republican nominee, declined to meet with us.

• Stuelke is uniquely qualified to serve Linn County. He worked at the Sheriff’s Office for almost 40 years, rising to the level of chief deputy. He also served on the Center Point City Council for more than 20 years, including a stint as mayor. We are confident Stuelke has the experience necessary to make an immediate impact on the Board of Supervisors.

Stuelke impressed us with his focus on rural affairs and calls for better mental health care. We challenge him to reconsider his commitment to increasing the Sheriff’s Office budget, and to consider alternative means of promoting public safety.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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