Thursday, September 17, 2015

Uncontested Races In Most Cities

The minimum wage increase passed by the Johnson County Supervisors may be a hot issue in the county's smaller cities - but in most cities it won't be fought out at the ballot box.

The filing deadline for most cities passed today, and of those cities only North Liberty and Swisher will see contested races.

Iowa City and University Heights, which have earlier deadlines because of their primary provision, will also have contested races, but not primaries.

Coralville will be much, much quieter than it was in 2013, when an open seat mayor's race and a big campaign effort by conservative group Americans For Prosperity boosted turnout to record levels. This year, Mayor John Lundell and council members Jill Dodds and Mitch Gross are unopposed.

Hills, Lone Tree, Oxford, Shueyville, Solon and Tiffin also have no contested races.

North Liberty will see four candidates trying for three seats. Incumbents Terry Donahue and Chris Hoffman are being challenged by new candidates Jay Johnson and Jim Sayre. The third incumbent, Colleen Chipman (of the Seelman-Mascher family) is stepping down.

In Swisher, where officials are planning a vote to opt out of the minimum wage, incumbents Mary Gudenkauf and Michael Stagg are challenged by Rebecca Neuendorf and Tiffany Dague in a race for three spots. (Sandy Fults is not running again.) Mayor Chris Taylor is unopposed.

In most cities, incumbents are running unopposed, or new candidates recruited by the current city officials are stepping up. Lone Tree will see a new mayor as Rick Ogren steps down; council member Sandra Flake is unopposed.

They said Don Saxton was mayor of Oxford for life, and he almost was, as he passed away just months after retiring in 2013. Saxton had been mayor for decades, but his chosen successor, Gary Wilkinson, lasted just two, and now no one wants the job. The winner will be settled by write-ins.

Two cities have ballot issues. Oxford will vote on a library levy. And as noted last month, University Heights, the last city where the whole council is up for two year terms every cycle, will vote on changing to staggered four year terms.

(Noted: de-construction is moving ahead at the St. Andrew Church property. Re-development of that land fueled three consecutive cycles of high turnout close elections between build it bigger and build it smaller factions. The build it bigger faction swept in 2013, and this year only one self-starter candidate is challenging.)

If the wage fight is going to play out in any city's election, it's in Iowa City's race for four seats (in three separate contests). Four progressive candidates - incumbent Jim Throgmorton and challengers Rockne Cole, Pauline Taylor and John Thomas - have pledged to support the higher wage, have hosted one joint event, and are planning at least two more, including one at the home of left icon Karen Kubby on September 25.
Meanwhile city staff - at the behest of incumbents Rick Dobyns and Michelle Payne, perhaps? - seems to be moving at a turtle's pace on an issue that really should be out in the open before people vote.

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