Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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May 31, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 6/2/09

We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the floods that affected us all so deeply. Even though my family and I did not personally suffer any losses, I will never forget June of 2009.

Please be sensitive to the impact that anniversaries can have. There are several people in Johnson County who have been through a lot; we all need to be supportive.

Johnson County has a critically important position available, as there is an opening on the Board of Health.

The 5 members of the Board of Health are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and serve 5-year terms. This is to fill an unexpired term, and the appointment will run through December 31 of this year. (The successful applicant could then seek reappointment if she/he chooses.)

For more information on applying, see:

It seems there has been a tempest in a teapot created over the State’s new law requiring gender equity on boards and commissions at the local government level. In light of the identity politics surrounding the appointment of Sonya Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, perhaps now is the time to discuss the issue.

The law does not go into effect until 2012, but the Board brought it up during some recent appointments.

I recognize why the Legislature passed this law. There are still far too many places where women are underrepresented on boards and commissions. I expressed my concerns that there might be unanticipated consequences to the passage of this law. The following situation illustrates one such example.

I voted to add TWO WOMEN to a commission that already had 5/7 female members. Because 3 Supervisors voted the way I did, that commission will now have 6/7 female members. I feel good about this vote, because the two women were clearly the most qualified candidates. Our vote is legal for now; as of 2012, this commission will need to have at least 3 men.

Clearly, eliminating a preponderance of women was not the intent of the folks that passed the law. I suppose they knew there would be some unintended consequences; my guess is they decided that it was worth trading a couple women in Johnson County for scores of women statewide. I can understand that logic.

I also think it is worth noting that diversity can be measured many ways. Johnson County fares extremely well as far as diversity in terms of sex and sexual identity. We do not fare very well when it comes to diversity in terms of race and ethnicity.

Just as importantly, the most underrepresented group as far as local governments are concerned are people of low income. Go through the lists of the people that are appointed to boards and commissions. Show me the people who earn below Iowa’s median per capita income of $25,000. The only appointees you will find are self-advocates who sit on Mental Health Commissions. People without money are always the least represented group.

One last thought: people talk a lot about appointing the “most qualified” applicant. Even this can be interpreted differently. For example, earlier I mentioned the opening on the Board of Health. I think Boards of Health should have several members who have a deep understanding of health – MDs, for example. Our current 5-member Board of Health has an MD; a DVM/PhD; and an RN. In my mind, this is a great mix.

While I like the credentials of our group, I feel strongly that the Board of Health should also have at least one “lay person”. The people need representation from some Jane or Joe Average who struggles with her health insurance provider, and wants clean restaurants, air and water. (We currently have that, too.)

I do not begrudge the Legislature for passing this law. It was probably needed in several places. I do not think Johnson County is one of those places. But we will certainly continue to seek out members of underrepresented groups, and we will certainly comply with the law once it goes into effect.

DID YOU KNOW? Memorial Day reminds us that one of the services provided by County government is Veteran’s Affairs. You can reach the Johnson County Department of Veteran’s Affairs in the new Health and Human Services Building at 855 S. Dubuque Street, or by calling 356-6049.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website- .

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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