The Johnson County League of Women Voters is hosting a public forum with the candidates on Wednesday, April 27. I plan to attend and listen to what each has to say.
Pat Heiden is a blueprint candidate for 50-50 in 2020, a non-partisan group whose mission is to achieve political equity for Iowa women. Heiden said she was inspired politically when her parents hosted candidates like the late Harold Hughes at their home.
She seeks to give back to the community by running for office. This seems a tangible goal after more than 30 years working at Oaknoll Retirement Community.
Heiden is well connected and has a natural constituency. She has the support of former supervisor and state representative Sally Stutsman and retiring supervisor Pat Harney. She also has behind the scenes support from the significant political players who associate with 50-50 in 2020. Having three of five supervisors being female would not be a bad thing. Heiden has not been politically active.
The other leading contender for my third vote is Kurt Michael Friese, a local businessman and author. He chose not to run in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Terrence Neuzil. Lisa Green-Douglass won that election.
The strength of Friese’s campaign is his endorsement list. Some people I respect and know reasonably well, including Francis Thicke, Ron Clark and Jody Hovland, are publicly endorsing him.
At a recent event I overheard him tell another attendee he had the Laurie Tulchin endorsement. Tulchin is a member of the so-called Newport Road gang, a politically active, resource laden and well-connected group of people working to avoid development in the area around their homes. There is a conflict between the gang and the county land use plan which designated their area as open for development while preserving the farm land south of Iowa City. This endorsement will persuade some.
Friese’s name is widely recognized among city dwellers, but his universe of Iowa City is not strongly connected to mine. Despite the negatives, he is a contender for my third vote.
Lewis works for the University of Iowa and we have enough influence on the board of supervisors from this dominating county economic engine. People I respect hold Lewis in high regard, but he’ll have to be persuasive at some level on April 27 to get my vote.
Hull is a medical helicopter pilot who got his flight training from Uncle Sam. He has been active in county veterans groups and had he inquired about or joined our chapter of Veterans for Peace, I might give him a second look. It seems doubtful a person who spends significant time with the American Legion will be my pick unless he is like Al Bohanan who served as a legion commander, is a member of Veterans for Peace and is very active in Democratic politics. Hull doesn’t appear to be like Bohanan.
My ballot in the primary looks pretty straight forward. Two incumbents plus one of two business people with a lean toward gender equity on the board. That could change by the election, and the League forum will be an important event to see how candidates handle themselves in public, and in reaction to each other.