Special election to be held to fill Johnson County Board of Supervisors opening

Special election to be held to fill Johnson County Board of Supervisors opening
KCJJ Staff

Having just gone to the polls, Johnson County residents are being asked to return one more time this year to fill an opening on the Board of Supervisors.

A statutory committee on Thursday decided to hold a special election rather than appoint someone to fill the remaining term of Kurt Friese, who died unexpectedly last month at his home. Friese’s term runs through the end of 2020.

The committee, made up of County Auditor Travis Weipert, Treasurer Tom Kriz, and Recorder Kim Painter, set the special election for Tuesday, Dec. 18. Painter and Weipert voted for the election while Kriz wanted to appoint.

“I know we just finished a consuming election. There were hard losses and exhilarating wins for both of our major political parties and for other parties,” Painter said. “But by my reckoning, we could set-up an election for mid-December, allow candidates to file and present themselves to our citizens, and have an election that will make us proud.

“People don’t want to be told by us who their leaders should be. I think they want to decide for themselves.”

The committee chose to hold an election despite multiple members of the public nominating outgoing supervisor Mike Carberry to fill the term. Peggy Loveless is a neighbor of the Frieses and she told the committee it is the family’s wish to have Carberry fill the seat.

“They support the appointment of Mike Carberry to finish Kurt’s term,” Loveless said, adding the family could not attend the meeting. “Not only does he have the experience of being a current board member, they trust Mike with service Kurt would wish.”

Kriz agreed appointment is best, citing the expected $60,000 cost and just-finished mid-term election.

“It’s like – I go back to sports – playing a football game and getting right to the end and the game gets tied up and it goes to overtime, and you’re spent, you’re tired, you’re fatigued. And how much do you have left to take it to that next step?” Kriz said of perceived voter fatigue. “But it can be done and often is done along that line.”

However, others argued for an election, saying two years is a long appointment and a new point-of-view may be needed on the board.

“This is two years; this is a long time,” Weipert said. “That’s going to be a lot of policy decisions that will have to be made by the individual. Budgets, all those types of things.”

“Options to appoint former supervisors do present themselves and they can be very attractive,” Painter said. “But, to me, for a two-year term they don’t seem to be the best choice. Two years is a full term in the House (of Representatives) whether at federal or the state level. And in my experience, the people of this county want a vote in that situation.”

Full status political parties – which in Iowa currently includes Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans – will need to nominate a candidate by convention. Anyone not affiliated with one of those parties must file a petition with at least 250 signatures with the Auditor’s Office by 5 p.m., Nov. 26.