Politics Doesn’t Take a Holiday

Newport Precinct Polling Place

Newport Precinct Polling Place

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa — Talk about politics is everywhere as the June 7 Democratic primary approaches.

There is a lot to think about in the two races with a field: U.S. Senate and county supervisors.

Well maybe not that much.

The four U.S. Senate candidates participated in a foreign policy forum in Des Moines last night and this tweet summarizes why I support State Senator Rob Hogg:

Addressing anthropogenic global warming is high on my priority list.

I’ve written about the county supervisor race a couple of times and I’m still where I was with my three votes: Sullivan, Green-Douglass and either Pat Heiden or Kurt Friese.

Heiden comes with strong endorsements of people I know and respect in and out of politics. On the positive side, she is an experienced businesswoman turned political newcomer with credibility on the three issues she is highlighting during the primary campaign: good governance based on her experience as executive director at Oaknoll Retirement Community; attention to the needs of the elderly — the county’s fastest growing population segment, and addressing mental health care delivery in the wake of the state’s poorly executed consolidation of services.

On the challenged side, Heiden was registered as a Republican voter as recently as last year. Already the whisper campaign has begun: she is a Republican in Democratic garb and will undo the progressive agenda, they say.

I asked her about the recent switch in registration. While she didn’t have a good answer, she made clear she was new to politics and didn’t fully understand the importance of one’s registration in the so-called People’s Republic of Johnson County. It is not an issue for me, and the idea she would help undo progress is a stretch.

As for Friese, he appears to be working his campaign as one would expect a candidate to do. Information is readily available and he scheduled an event in each of the towns in the county. That he’s riding his bicycle to each town is a positive, unique twist. The importance of community outreach is high on my list. Thus far, only he, Sullivan and Heiden have made a noticeable effort to campaign outside the peculiar enclave that is Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty.

On the positive side, Friese’s issues list includes social justice for people living in poverty, who are food insecure, and without affordable housing and access to mental health care. His list of endorsements is a mixed bag of people I know and respect, with some clinkers mixed in.

On the challenged side, Friese is a denizen of Iowa City with all the negative connotations that includes. His business is there and he participates actively as a notable person in society. Outside the county seat, people don’t know him and he has managed to get sideways with a couple of people I know and respect.

To an extent, he panders to the Newport Road gang and their method of slowing urban sprawl. His early tagline, “stop pouring concrete on good farm land,” is evidence of this. He has strong support on Newport Road. This is about the land use plan and how the supervisors administer it. At least Friese is engaged in this issue and expected to be a predictable vote on development in the northern part of the county.

As one of the liberal centers in the state, Johnson County has some responsibility to lead by example and support gender equity on boards and commissions, including the board of supervisors. The current status is two females and three males and I feel strongly we don’t want to walk that back to one to four. Gender equity is an important issue, although not the most important one. It’s worth considering when there are plenty of good potential supervisors in the race. With three of five seats up for election, the decisions made in the primary will presumably be ratified during the general election and set the agenda for the next four years.

It is important people take time to learn about the candidates before voting.

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