It is likely that only those in the local political geek squad noticed that the filing deadline for the November 8th ballot passed quietly last week with no new additions or surprises. This means, among other things, that only three names will appear under the heading “Johnson County Board of Supervisors” – mine, Rod Sullivan’s, and Lisa Green-Douglass’ – three to fill three seats. So yes, I like my odds of winning in the fall.
This does not mean my campaign faces no opposition, though. Each of the major issues I have campaigned on – from land use to transportation to inclusive zoning to the Poor Farm to maintaining a living wage to even civil governance – faces opposition to my approach from one corner or the other. Therefore I shall continue to campaign hard this fall, and let this be the formal announcement: I still need your help and support.
We must encourage developers to concentrate on infill development and to include housing that caters to those most in need. Johnson County is an economically challenging place to live for a variety of reasons, and all stakeholders ought to gather around the same table – one where we emphasize a community that is regenerative, resilient, sustainable and inclusive. One that does not merely concentrate on short-term profit, but on long-term quality. Government at every level should encourage and support the kinds of smart development that reach for those goals. Some people of goodwill may see things differently, and some will oppose this. We must fight for it.
We need a transportation system that takes its inspiration from the 21st century, not the 20th. Johnson County, the cities and towns, the University, the school boards, all the stakeholders ought to gather around the same table – one where we acknowledge our growing population, its interconnectedness, and the importance of our transportation choices to our economy and the climate. Johnson County should work toward a Metropolitan Transit Authority linking all our major cities and towns, and toward rail that connects us to the Eastern Iowa Airport and beyond. Some will oppose this. We must fight for it.
We are all connected, one to the other, and we all do better when we ALL do better. The data are crystal clear – a home a family can afford to keep makes solving virtually any other difficulty possible, and not having such a home prevents all possible progress. Johnson County needs a baseline inclusive zoning ordinance, a foundation that all stakeholders can agree on – that says we will do at least this much, and if cities can and will do more, then more power to them. But there needs to be a baseline standard to measure by. Some will oppose this. We must fight for it.
We have a tremendous opportunity in the Johnson County Poor Farm. A community that cannot feed itself is not sustainable, and regenerative principles guide us to model society in circles, not in chains. At the Poor Farm we can build business incubators for farmers and food entrepreneurs, borrowing from similar ideas across the nation. At the same time, we can provide affordable housing for those who wish to get a foothold in farming fresh food for Johnson County residents. Some will oppose this. We must fight for it.
We fought for a minimum wage ordinance in Johnson County, and the current Board of Supervisors passed one. This has meant a better standard of living for thousands of residents, and now other counties – Linn, Polk, Wapello and Lee, for starters – are following that lead. Unless and until the state or federal government mandates a minimum wage that is higher than the one we have here, Johnson County must continue to lead the way. Some will oppose this. We must fight for it.
We are one community with many disparate voices, each possessing inherent worth and dignity, and each deserving to be heard. Occasionally passions and emotions, old grudges and animosity can cause people to lash out, especially in the media, but often over the meeting table as well. I have spent a lifetime gathering people around tables and I intend to lead a very civil discourse, with a willingness to compromise where possible and an awareness that progress never occurs in great hunks but rather in tiny increments. Some will oppose this. I will listen.
And so I ask you to get those red yard signs out of the barn or garage and put them back out where people can see them (If you need a new one, I will bring you one). Show your support for the campaign of ideas we are waging in this election, because local government is where the decisions that affect your day-to-day life really happen. Talk to your friends about it, post about the campaign on your favorite social networks, and yes, please give a few bucks to the campaign to help continue to spread the word that a regenerative, resilient, sustainable and inclusive Johnson County is within our grasp, if we reach beyond the loyal opposition.