Friday, September 23, 2011

City Races in Johnson County

City Races in Johnson County

Challenges to mayors in Coralville and Tiffin and a contested open seat mayor's race in Hills are highlights in candidate filing for nine Johnson County cities yesterday. (Iowa City and UHeights, with a primary system, had a September 1 deadline.) The specifics:

Coralville: Looks like our hottest contest. 16 year council member John Weihe is challenging 16 year mayor Jim Fausett for the two year term. Issues? It's my turn? Jim had some health problems?

Anyway, that opens up one of the two council seats (four year terms). Incumbent Mitch Gross is running again. Gross finished first in 2007, ahead of Weihe and bumping off Jean Schnake. Thus Coralville has had an all male council for four years, but there will be a woman on board again; the two new candidates are Jill Dodds and Lynn Snyder.

Hills: Mayor Russ Bailey is stepping down. Current council member Tim Kemp and former member Steve Cook are facing off for the two year term. (Trivia: Hills had a TIED mayor election in 1995.) Four candidates are running for three four year council terms: incumbents Merle Hill and Cathy Knebel, and new candidates Bruce Endris and Steve Harris.

Lone Tree: Yawn. No opposition for mayor Rick Ogren, council member Sandra Brown and new candidate Mitch Swinton (replacing Mary Larsen). But the Tree has seen successful write-in efforts in the past, even beating candidates listed on the ballot, so keep one eye open.

North Liberty: Three incumbents - Coleen Chipman, Terry Donahue and Chris Hoffman - running for four year terms; new candidate Matt Zacek is challenging. Also on the ballot is the issue of electing members by ward rather than at large. The same issue lost overwhelmingly in a 2007 special election, but that was less about wards and more a de facto attempt to recall then-mayor Dave Franker (who immediately after the ward election resigned and moved out of state). And this one is also, to some extent, about other issues as well (the UI Credit Union land deal).

Question: if there's enough dissatisfaction in North Liberty to merit a change in government format, why aren't there more challengers? And why is the one challenger, Zacek, from the same Fox Run neighborhood as Hoffman and Donahue?

Oxford: 30-year mayor Don Saxton is signing up for two more years unopposed. Four candidates are trying for three four-year council seats: incumbent Gary Wilkinson, former member Mary Sue Jiras (stepped down in 2007), and first-timers Lorena Loomis and Sara Morlan. Incumbents Ed Kasper and Twyla Morlan are not running.

Shueyville: There will be two write-in winners. Only one candidate, incumbent Mickey Coonfare, filed for the three seats. Incumbents Larry Ilg and Jennifer Winter did not file.

Solon: Mayor Rick Jedlicka is stepping down, and mid-term council member Cami Rasmussen is unopposed for the job.This means her council seat will open up in January. Two council seats are up for four year terms. Incumbent Brad Kunkel is running; Susan Ballantyne is not. The new candidate is Ronald Herdliska

There are two other items on the ballot. Appointed council member Mark Krall is up against Chuck Panzer for the last two years of the term. There's also a bond issue to buy the Brosh Funeral home for a new city hall. That takes 60%.

Swisher: Mayor Scott Grabe is stepping down and council member Tim Mason is stepping up; he's the only candidate for the four year term. For council, there are four candidates for three four year terms: incumbents Mary Gudenkauf and Scott Huston Sr. and newcomers Matthew Myers and Sandra Fults.

Tiffin: Steve Berner is challenging mayor Royce Phillips for a two year term. For council, four people are running for two four year terms: incumbent Mark Petersen, former member Michael Ryan (who won on a 1997 write-in and left in 2001) and new candidates Jim Schmidt and Peggy Knowling Upton.

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