Democrats and Republicans nominated their candidates for Johnson County’s Board of Supervisors race this week — a familiar Republican candidate will make his fourth bid for the board, and the former mayor of Lone Tree will attempt to return to Johnson County politics.
The Johnson County Republicans had their nominating contest on May 8, where they voted 11-8 to nominate Phil Hemingway, an Iowa City mechanic and former Iowa City School Board member, to be the party’s candidate.
Micah Broekemeier, a 29-year-old University of Iowa student, also ran for the nomination, receiving eight votes.
On Tuesday, Democrats met at the Johnson County Fairgrounds to choose their candidate for the election. The field was a little more crowded. Four candidates were on the Democrats’ ballot:
- Deputy County Treasurer Scott Finlayson
- Coralville City Councilor Meghann Foster
- Former Lone Tree Mayor Jon Green
- Johnson County Public Health Educator Susan Vileta
After three rounds of voting in which the lowest vote-getter was eliminated, Green beat out Foster 139-137 for the nomination.
The election for the Board of Supervisors will take place on June 8. May 24 is the voter pre-registration deadline and the deadline to request an absentee ballot.
Green knew getting the Democratic nomination wouldn’t be easy. Going against three accomplished Democrats, he said he was surprised he’d gotten the most votes on the first ballot.
“I had known that this was going to be a big lift,” he said. “I had no illusions that this thing was going to be easy. The quality of the other candidates was pretty plain.”
Green, 38, resides in Lone Tree, Iowa and was the mayor of the town of about 1,300 from 2018-2019.
He said having someone from the rural parts of the county will help ensure representation on the board. He said he doesn’t think the current supervisors ignore rural Johnson County, but that his experiences give him a better window into rural areas’ needs.
“Just by virtue of my feet being where they’re at, I do have a different perspective,” he said. “I run in different social circles that they do, I do my shopping in different places than they do. So it’s just, I have a different lived experience.”
Green isn’t timid about his policy positions. A self-described leftist, Green has advocated for police abolition and ending the drug war and legalizing drugs, moving to a public health approach rather than a criminal one.
He said he’s in favor of diverting funds from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to mental health services and other non-armed emergency services. He said money should be spent identifying the underlying causes of crime, rather than on police.
“We need to get folks that are trained in mental health, substance abuse, deescalation and conflict resolution need to be on the front lines of many more 911 calls,” he said.
Johnson County will receive about $29 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan, and Green said he wants to see those funds go to the most vulnerable in the county.
He said the county should actively find people who need the money and assist with paperwork and hurdles to receiving the funds.
“We cannot just put this pot of money out curbside and say, ‘if you need it come and take it,’” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re identifying folks who need assistance and helping them to get it.”
Born in Wyoming, Green grew up in and around Johnson County, and graduated from Morningside College in Sioux City. He was a state delegate for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, and was on the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee from 2016 to 2018.
Sanders endorsed Green’s supervisor campaign before the Democratic convention, saying he appreciated Green’s work as mayor of Lone Tree.