Friday, December 21, 2018

Elected Official Factoids

With Endless Election Season finally over following Royceann Porter's election to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, we have a more or less final roster of the elected officials who will represent Johnson County in the coming year.

A total of 219 elected officials represent Johnson County voters at all levels of government, from Donald Trump to dogcatcher (the official title is "Canine Control Commissioner"). That's not counting school boards for districts that are mostly in other counties. The county has a dozen school districts but only four are mostly in our county - one more complication of the new combined city-school election we will see next November.

Just kidding about Canine Control Commissioner (if we did elect dogg catchers there could only be one choice), but 84 of these officials are township officers - 21 clerks and 63 trustees who deal with fire and cemetery budgets and fence disputes in the rural area. These seats are rarely contested and sometimes decided by write-ins when no one files. Four of these township seats are currently vacant, though two appointments have been decided but not yet finalized (the incumbents who tried not to run are getting re-appointed anyway). I'm including those two people in the stats below.

The township officials are on average older and more male than other officials. We have a big gender gap - 70 of the 219 elected officials are women and 147 men. When the township offices are excluded, the gender balance gets much closer - 55 women and 80 men. Several governmental bodies are female majority, most notably the four women, one man Board of Supervisors.

Other types of diversity are harder to document and since I don't want to leave anyone out I won't go too far down that road. To the best of my knowledge we have four African Americans in office - Porter,  Iowa City council members Bruce Teague and Mazahir Salih, and Iowa City school board member Ruthina Malone.

30 of the 219 offices are elected on a partisan basis, and of those 30 there are 21 Democrats, including every seat that is controlled solely by Johnson County voters. Though we are the People's Republic, we have 51 registered Republicans representing Johnson County voters, from Trump to the trustees. These are either partisan officials at the state or federal level where other counties have outvoted us, or locals in officially nonpartisan office.(Township offices were partisan until 2006.)

135 of the 219 officials are registered Democrats, and 31 are registered no party. None are registered with third parties, though we have had a Green school board member and a Libertarian mayor in recent years.

The median age elected official is Kathy Swenka of the Clear Creek Amana school board, by coincidence celebrating her 58th birthday today. Excluding the township officials makes Porter our median age official; she turned 53 last week.

Seven of our elected officials are under the constitutional minimum of 35 to be elected president. The only one under 30 is new state senator Zach Wahls, who at 27 is the youngest by nearly four years. Tyler Baird of the Lone Tree city council, at 31, is next youngest.

Our oldest elected official is Union Township trustee Donald Johnson, who turns 90 next week. At 85, Chuck Grassley is next. Nine officials are over 80, all township officials except Grassley and Dottie Maher of the University Heights city council.

Grassley is also the official who has represented Johnson County the longest. Grassley has held public office since 1958, serving first in the legislature and then the US House, but he did not have Johnson County voters till his first Senate win in 1980. At least a dozen officials have served continuously since before the turn of the century; my data on first election dates for township officers is incomplete.
Among strictly local offices, the official with the longest service is a matter of definition. Jim Bartels has been on the Tiffin city council continuously since 1989. Tom Gill of the Coralville city council won his first term in 1987, but voluntarily took two years off at the turn of the century.
However you define the new champ, the old leader was Bob Dvorsky. He was continuously in office from his first Coralville city council win in 1979 until his retirement from the state senate this year, save for a gap of a few days in 1994 when he resigned from the state house  to run in a state senate special election. That allowed the two special elections to be combined. To my knowledge he's the only legislator who has ever done that and I can't repeat the story enough.

No comments: