Candidates face off in Johnson County special election

Early voting is already taking place in Johnson County. The last day to vote for the supervisor position will be on election day, December 18.

Just over a month since election day, two candidates in Johnson County are facing off in a special election for a Johnson County Board of Supervisors seat.

The election will fill out the remainder of Kurt Friese's term, who died suddenly in October.

Democratic candidate Royceann Porter and Republican candidate Phil Hemingway are now both vying for the seat.

This race will be the fourth race in four months for some residents in the county, but the candidates said showing up at the polls is still important because they say it is a vote for more representation in Johnson County.

"As people are coming here, we want them to feel welcomed, and that's why I want to represent everybody, to make everybody feel welcomed," said Porter.

"I know we're both out talking to people and trying to inform the community on what we each have to offer," said Hemingway.

Hemingway lost in the general election for a board seat this November but he running for supervisor again as a voice for the rural Johnson County community.

If elected, he would be the first republican in more than 60 years elected to the board.

"I think it's important that there be at least one supervisor who's actually made a living off the land who can appreciate the needs and challenges of those people," said Hemingway.

The auto repair shop owner would also bring his experience working on the Iowa City Community School District Board to the position.

"The Iowa City school board's budget is larger than the county's budget," he said. "So I have that fiscal oversight experience I can bring to the county supervisors position."

Porter is hoping to become the first African American elected to the board.

"I do a lot working with social justice and racial justice, and workers rights, immigration rights," said Porter.

The Teamsters union organizer was even endorsed by U.S. Senator Cory Booker after his visit to Iowa.

"You know he asked me what is it that I can do to help you get in and I was like, 'Can you just tell people to vote for me.' He said absolutely, and that's what he did," said Porter.

Some of her priorities include transportation and affordable housing resources in the county.

Both candidates agree mental health should be addressed too.

"We want to continue to go down that road to make sure that we're doing all we can for people to be able to afford to live in Johnson County," said Porter.

"Mental health is huge, and also just a fundamental treatment of respect by the board of supervisors to all residents," said Hemingway.

Early voting is already taking place in Johnson County. The last day to vote for the supervisor position will be on election day, December 18.

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