Monday, August 12, 2013

Worse Things Than Partisanship

I usually get some criticism for my Objective Voters Guide to school and city elections. They're supposed to be non-partisan, so even mentioning the party IDs of candidates is supposed to be taboo.

But there's worse stuff in this race than partisanship.

Johnson County Republican chair Deb Thornton took a shot at candidate Sara Barron, an out lesbian, via Facebook yesterday.

Thornton writes:
Sara, and I'm sure as an open and inclusive person who welcomes all views and believes everyone has a right to their own opinion, to not only have the right to a difference of opinion - but to state it freely - under the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States - that you'll respect my right to believe homosexuality and homosexual marriage is wrong. No, I won't be voting for you - for a wide variety of reasons.
I'm all for free speech, and for taking responsibility for what you say. Barron replied:
Yes, and as someone who calls for unity and working together through our differences, I have to admit that my patience for intolerance goes away when it hurts my children or tries to come through my front door.
Thornton herself ran for school board in 2007, finishing a distant last place.

Since partisanship's not so bad compared to that, let's take an Objective look at the other three Johnson County districts.

My wife Koni's alma mater Clear Creek Amana has four separate candidate races, along with a levy renewal. Their system is a little complicated. They have four district seats and three at large seats. Everyone in the whole school district votes on the district races, but candidates have to live in the district.

That prompted a seat switch for incumbent Eileen Schmidt; the line changes were minor but just enough to draw her out of her district. She filed at-large instead and is unopposed; incumbent Aimee Pitlick filed but then dropped out. Schmidt is registered as a Republican. I'm supposed to say the races are non-partisan. But this is the Objective Information people ask for.

The District 3 seat is for a two year term, because it's where Schmidt was paired up with fellow incumbent Steve Swenka. He's running again and facing Lisa Beckmann. Both candidates are registered Democrats.

In District 4, former board member Jim Seelman (registered Republican) and new candidate Malinda Lamb (a Democrat) are facing off. The District 2 seat drew no candidates at all, and the winner will be determined by write-ins.

Three seats are up for grabs in Solon, and two are vacant as incumbents David Asprey and Lianne Westcot step down. Dick Schwab, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in House 73 last year, is running for re-election. The other registered Dem on the ballot is former Solon mayor Rick Jedlicka. Timothy Brown, Amber Marty and Doug Vislisel are all Republicans; Steve Duncan is an independent.

Lone Tree looks like the quietest race as incumbents Gary Feldman (a Democrat), James Loan and appointee Christina Magruder (both independents) are unopposed for the three seats. But there's a history of write-ins in this district and some have beaten ballot-listed candidates. The Tree also has a revenue purpose statement on the ballot.

And last but not least, all four districts are voting on renewal of the Kirkwood levy. Parts of the county also vote in Kirkwood director district 3 where longtime incumbent Lois Bartelme (a D) is unopposed. Johnson County hasn't seen a contested Kirkwood director race in decades, though Linn County sometimes has contests. There's one up there this year in District 9; Kevin King is challenging incumbent John Swanson.

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