Money Crop and Opinion

FB CoverLAKE MACBRIDE— Lawn clippings are a money crop and the harvest has begun. Waiting until the grass gets long with spring growth, I cut it once at the highest deck setting, then again at 3-1/2 inches, bagging the result as mulch for the garden. This year there is an abundance.

Once the garden is mulched, the bagging attachment is removed from the tractor and stored in the garage until next year— it’s better to mulch the lawn during the hot, dry season.

That’s not to say I am caught up with gardening. Far from it. There have been greens and radishes lately, but there has neither been enough time to weed what I planted, nor plant all that needs to be. Gardening will be far from perfect this year working in fits and starts in between outside work.

Last night I attended the Solon City Council meeting, and the setting in the new city hall is spacious, but a little weird. The mayor, councilors, and administrative staff sit at a crescent moon shaped table table arrangement, and I sit front row, center, facing them with my camera and recorder. Last night, after the Alliant Energy discussion, I was the only other person present.

While it is important for the media to cover governing bodies, it is a sad statement that so few people are present at their meetings. Of course, if I wasn’t being compensated, not sure you’d find me there either.

The Iowa primary elections were Tuesday, and my publicly declared candidates all won. Because I worked as a campaign consultant on the 2012 Iowa House District 73 race, there was a particular interest, but I kept my mouth shut about it. What we did then, and I suggested both 2014 candidates David Johnson and Dennis Boedeker do, is predict turnout, and then identify voters until one half plus one needed were confirmed. It doesn’t appear that either followed my advice.

Turnout was 1,064 in the race with Johnson winning by 30 votes. This was pathetic. The district had 1,361 primary voters in 2012. The comparative numbers were Wilton (2012 = 45; 2014 = 33, Johnson County (2012 = 748; 2014 = 569), and Cedar County (2012 = 568; 2014 = 462). Partly this is due to the midterms being less interesting for voters, but mostly it has to do with the amount of work in the form of shoe leather, phone calls and mailings being done by candidates.

One of the myths about the campaigns was that high interest in Johnson County court house races would drive higher turnout there. In 2012 it was the Slockett v. Weipert race for county auditor. In 2014 it was the Lyness v. Zimmerman race for county attorney, plus a competitive four way race for two seats on the county board of supervisors. Overall, turnout set a county record for primaries in 2014. The District 73 numbers show that what mattered more than overall trends was the amount of work done by a campaign (ours in 2012), or the lack thereof (by either candidate in 2014). Some additional things about the race contributed to my analysis but are not appropriate to share on a public blog.

What I know more than anything is the incumbent is smart, politically savvy, and hard working. Since he was sworn in, I have gotten to know him better than I know most legislators. Now that Johnson has a clear shot to November, he should gear up his game if he hopes to win. A surer bet would be on the tomatoes I mulched with my grass clippings, if the primary results are any indicator.

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