Consider running for city councils, school boards

Rod Sullivan
Posted 8/31/23

Former Johnson County Engineer Doug Frederick passed away last week at his home in Joetown. 

  In addition to serving as the County Engineer, Doug cofounded Hart Frederick Consultants, …

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Consider running for city councils, school boards


Former Johnson County Engineer Doug Frederick passed away last week at his home in Joetown. 

  In addition to serving as the County Engineer, Doug cofounded Hart Frederick Consultants, who are a regular presence at meetings of the Board of Supervisors. Hart Frederick staff help citizens navigate the many processes that exist in planning and zoning law, and they do a great job.

RIP, Doug.


Zuri starts first grade

My granddaughter Zuri starts First Grade at Horace Mann this year, and our whole household is excited.

  I love the improvements that were made at Mann. It is interesting; I was on the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) Committee that decided what the ICCSD would ask voters to approve in the huge 2017 bond issue. (I served on the bond campaign as well.) Mitch Gross (then a West High teacher, now the West High Principal) and I led the charge to ensure that as few schools as possible got closed, and that every school got improvements. The consultants would have closed Mann, Lincoln, Longfellow, Hills, and Coralville Central. We argued to not only keep those schools, but to invest heavily in them. Thankfully, our side won the day.

  It is a bit ironic, because I never imagined that six years later, my granddaughter would be attending one of the schools we saved, but I am really glad she is.

  Good luck, Zuri! Go get ‘em!


Lone Tree Fall Festival

The Lone Tree Fall Festival was August 25-26 in Lone Tree. This event is a great opportunity to share some good times with the fine folks of Johnson County’s “panhandle.”


Special vs. regular elections

  The deadline is coming up soon for candidates who wish to run for city council or school board seats. I have been surprised (and frankly, disappointed) that these races have not drawn more interest. There are very few candidates in some of these races; many communities are lucky just to fill every seat. 

  Hey, I get it. These are often thankless positions that do not even pay. Add in all the right-wing BS that they have to deal with, and I can see why people are not exactly rushing to sign up.

  There is one thing, however, that I do not understand. Why do we get so few candidates standing for election during regular elections, but so many deciding to run in special elections? Just look at the 2021 election results in Johnson County:

Iowa City: 3 candidates for 2 seats.

Coralville: 4 candidates for 3 seats.

North Liberty: 2 candidates for 2 seats.

Hills: 3 candidates for 2 seats.

Lone Tree: 2 candidates for 3 seats.

Oxford: No candidates for Mayor.

Now compare that to some recent special election history in Johnson County:

2020 Coralville (Hai Huynh elected) 4 candidates for 1 seat.

2019 North Liberty (Raquishia Harrington elected) 6 candidates for 1 seat.

2018 Iowa City (Bruce Teague elected) 5 candidates for 1 seat.

2017 North Liberty (Sarah Madsen elected) 7 candidates for 1 seat.

2016 ICCSD (Paul Roesler elected) 3 for 1 seat.

Most of these candidates did not simply fill the unexpired term but ran for reelection. So why do candidates decide to run in special elections but not regular elections?

  I have a couple theories:

A special election is always for an unexpired term. Perhaps people like the idea of a shorter term; a trial run, if you will. 

As I mentioned earlier, most of the people who fill unexpired terms seem to later run for a full term.

Special elections require someone to step down from elected office. That is newsworthy, so the media covers the resignation and vacancy much more thoroughly. Potential candidates for office probably don’t realize the regular election is happening until it is too late.

Meanwhile, the filing period for cities with primary provisions (Iowa City and University Heights) is August 14 - August 31, 5 p.m. The filing period for all other cities, school boards, and community college boards is August 28 - September 21, 5 p.m.

  If you look at the list of candidates and don’t like what you see, recruit someone, or run yourself. The public needs good people to run for these positions.


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