Porter moves into chair of Johnson County Supervisors

Former Washington County resident is first Black in county history to chair the board

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 1/4/22

Royceann Porter, a native of Michigan who moved to Washington County more than 30 years ago to work at a meat processing plant, was elected as chair of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on …

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Porter moves into chair of Johnson County Supervisors

Former Washington County resident is first Black in county history to chair the board

Posted

Royceann Porter, a native of Michigan who moved to Washington County more than 30 years ago to work at a meat processing plant, was elected as chair of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

She is the first African American chair in Johnson County history. She was elected to the board in a special election in 2018.

“I am excited and honored to be elected chair of the Board of Supervisors for 2022,” Porter said in a statement. “The last few years have been challenging for everyone, but I look forward to the next year as we — the board, along with all elected officials, department heads and employees — continue to work together to improve the lives of all people in Johnson County.”

Lisa Green-Douglass was elected as vice chair for 2022.

Outgoing chair Pat Heiden remains as one of the other three supervisors, along with former Lone Tree Mayor Jon Green and longtime supervisor Rod Sullivan.

“I want to thank the Board of Supervisors staff,” Heiden said after Monday’s vote at the board’s formal organizational meeting. “Every day, I am so grateful for each of you.”

Porter, who now lives in Iowa City, served as vice chair in 2021. She has been vocal on the board about issues facing minorities in Johnson County and opposed the sheriff department’s use of its Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) armored vehicle in community neighborhoods.

She will chair her first formal meeting Thursday.

Also at its meeting Monday, the board approved The News as one of four official Johnson County newspapers.

At its work session last week, the board appeared to be moving closer to authorizing warnings to county employees who have not returned Covid vaccination status forms. As of December 29, 49 of the county’s 584 employees had not complied with a deadline that originally was set for December 13.

“We’ve got several employees who are concerned about privacy issues,” said Adam Grier, Johnson County Risk Management Coordinator.

The patience of board members is clearly running out with a January 31 mandate on vaccinations and testing rapidly approaching.

“The policy was in place, and they knew it,” Green-Douglass said.

Sullivan, who himself had to participate in board meetings last week via Zoom because he had close contact with a person who may be infected, said it was time to establish a solid deadline on the return of status forms.

“If we don’t stick to our guns, this is going to be pointless,” Sullivan said.

The board was scheduled to discuss the issue again this week with a possibility that January 7 would be the deadline for all employees to return vaccination status forms. After that, board members agreed, non-conforming employees would be subject to verbal warnings, written warnings and other penalties.

Beginning January 31, unvaccinated employees must be tested weekly and they cannot begin work until a negative test is returned, according to current policy. Employees can request a medical or religious exemption.

The mandate was deferred four weeks due to litigation that was being considered in federal courts. A Federal Court of Appeals decision on December 17 lifted a stay on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement of vaccine mandates for employers that have more than 100 workers.

A mask mandate remains in place in all Johnson County buildings, regardless of vaccination status. The mask mandate expires January 15 but is likely to be extended soon by the board.

All of Iowa remains in the “high risk” category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Monday, Johnson County had 670 Covid cases with a positivity rate of 12.33%.

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