JOHNSON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

State legislation to change Johnson County Supervisors election process

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 3/9/23

IOWA CITY

The world of county governing is about to change in Iowa.

Pending state legislation would split larger counties into voting districts, meaning voters would choose just one supervisor …

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JOHNSON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

State legislation to change Johnson County Supervisors election process

Posted

IOWA CITY

The world of county governing is about to change in Iowa.

Pending state legislation would split larger counties into voting districts, meaning voters would choose just one supervisor in their specific district instead of casting ballots for multiple at-large supervisors.

Johnson County has five supervisors, including former Lone Tree Mayor Jon Green. He and Supervisor V Fixmer-Oraiz began four-year terms this past January, but the districting rule, once signed into law, may shorten their term as all five supervisors would face a new election in November 2024.

Some of the supervisors would have four-year terms and others two years. Details were debated on the legislative floor this week and a version was passed Tuesday.

“I think the nut here is, the legislature doesn’t care,” Green said during the Board of Supervisors work session March 1. “They’re not trying to solve a problem. They just want to stick the screws to us. If this has the outcome of making government work more poorly, that might be what they’re after.”

In Johnson County’s case, a districting plan would likely include two districts in Iowa City and a district covering large portions of rural southwest Johnson County. Other districts will likely include areas north of Iowa City.

“I think they want to take away local control,” said Travis Weipert, Johnson County Auditor.

“I think we should keep local control until they pry it from our cold, dead hands,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.

The talk of changes to the supervisor system statewide came during a week when state legislation targeting LGBTQ youth and same-sex marriage resulted in school walkouts across the state, including Iowa City High School.

“A lot of powerful testimony,” said Green, who joined the students in their protest walk.

“We all should be able to marry if we want and we should be able to marry the person that we want to. Period,” said Supervisor Chair Lisa Green-Douglass.

New Exec Director

At its March 2 formal session, the board appointed Guillermo Morales as executive director of the board.

“This county is an absolute gem,” Morales said. “In many ways, it’s a counterbalance for those lucky enough to call Johnson County home against the heartlessness and the brutality and the contempt of the state against its own people. The people of Johnson County have shared values. We value equality, fairness, kindness, equity inclusion, empathy, autonomy, accountability, and in truth, the truth. I’m committed to fighting to uphold those values and to serving all people of Johnson County.”

Board Action

The Board approved a number of land-use agreements at the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm.

The Board issued a proclamation in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Budget Schedule

Due to state legislation that is changing county and city budgets for Fiscal Year 2024, public hearing dates have been adjusted. A public hearing for tax asking will be held March 29 and a public hearing on the county’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 will be held April 19. The Board is expected to vote on the final budget April 27.

Lawn Program

Residents of Lone Tree and Hills, plus unincorporated areas of Johnson County, are eligible to apply for up to $2,000 in soil-quality restoration through the Johnson County Soil Health Program. Homeowners can have 50% of the cost covered through the program, which was put in place last year to produce healthier lawns not using chemicals.

For more information on the program, or to apply, go to: johnsoncountyiowa.gov/pds/soil-health-program.

Johnson County, Board of Supervisors, Iowa legislation, elections

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