Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Larry Meyers

Supervisor Larry Meyers loses cancer battle

We lost a great guy, a great public official and a great Democrat this afternoon. Johnson County Supervisor Larry Meyers lost the battle with cancer that had lasted most of his three years on the Board. Larry was 58. Visitation is Thursday from 3 to 7 PM at the Brosh Chapel and Community Center, 100 South Cedar Street, Solon.

Larry was an odd recruit to electoral politics. In the spring of 2006, the hot issue was the fight over Newport Road, and opponents of the proposed widening were struggling for a candidate. Larry was the one who stepped up. He was a building contractor who lived on the road and hadn't really been active in politics.

You can still see the DON'T TREAD ON ME flags on Newport Road. That was the symbol the neighbors adopted, and it was on all Larry's signs and flyers. The "6-6-6" election (June 6, 2006) was the highest turnout Democratic primary in county history, and Larry did what no one had done in a decade: he beat a courthouse incumbent in a primary.

A lot of folks assumed Larry was going to be a one-issue supervisor, and indeed the Newport Road decision was reversed. But Larry Meyers took his job, the whole job, seriously. I had the chance to work literally side by side with Larry for a year taking Board minutes. Larry played a bigger role in the details of the new Health and Human Services Building than people know; he was the guy who could look at building plans and translate them from contractor language into Supervisor language.

And he always kept his sense of humor, even when he was battling through chemo. We joked about our bald heads as the illness took away his scruffy beard. For a little while it looked like he'd turned the corner.

May 2006, Dubuque Street north of town

Larry got active in the rest of Democratic Party politics, too. He was a frequent feature of the central committee and caucused for Joe Biden. (I tried really, REALLY hard to get him to publicly commit on that one, so I could do a "Five Supervisors Back Five Different Candidates" story.)

Larry had been hoping to run for another term next year, and it's sad that he didn't get the chance. In his short time in office he earned respect across County government, even from those who disagreed with him on his signature issue.

I feel a little ghoulish but there's a what happens next story here. The basics: The statutory responsibility for filling a vacancy on the Board falls to a committee of the auditor, recorder and treasurer. This last happened in 1998-99, under less sad circumstances when Joe Bolkcom was elected to the state senate. The committee can either appoint or go straight to an election. The public can petition for an election after an appointment. That happened in 1994 and in the 1997 recorder vacancy, and in both cases 1) the appointee was elected and 2) the election itself was the big issue in the election.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Larry will always be remembered for his honesty, his genuine human spirit, his hard work, and his care for other human beings while always sharing his great smile with those who needed it most!

Thank you Larry, and my thanks to his family and friends.