Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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August 29, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/3/13

In this edition:

*United Way Campaign
*School Board Elections
*Film Scene
*Did You Know?

*United Way Campaign
         The 2013-14 United Way campaign is underway. I mention it frequently, and I’ll say it again: I’m a huge supporter of the United Way!

         The United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties has been using a three-word call to action. It is simple, and I love it!

         Give. Advocate. Volunteer.

         Short, simple, and yet SO poignant! Far too many people do none of these three things. Others do one, or even two. But it is a three-legged stool. To truly affect change, we need to do all three.

         Give. Advocate. Volunteer.

*School Board Elections
         School Board elections are September 10 across Johnson County, and there are some exciting races on the ballot!

         I have to be honest. Endorsing candidates in school board races gives me heartburn. It is one heck of a lot easier to just stay out of this. There is nothing to gain by doing endorsements. I just make people mad. I lose votes myself!

         So why do it? Well, I wasn’t going to. I swore I wasn’t. Then I said as much to a friend.

         “But you HAVE to!” he exclaimed. “I don’t follow this stuff that closely. I just vote for the people you vote for. I COUNT on you! And so do other people!”

         I was not completely sure what to say. I have actually heard this from others, but they always said it in a joking manner. Do people really vote based upon my recommendations? I honestly don’t know.

         I debated and debated. A friend said, “Only endorse two people. Then all the rest can just think you supported them, too.” That is a crafty approach, and maybe even wise. But I kept coming back to the idea that at least a few people were counting on me.

I decided to do it. So here are my endorsements. Please note that I am only touching on the 4 public school districts based in Johnson County. I recognize that hundreds of Johnson County kids attend College Community, Mid-Prairie, Highland, West Branch, and other nearby districts. My apologies, but I have no endorsements in those races.

Solon: 6 people are running for 3 seats. I have two endorsements – Rick Jedlicka and Dick Schwab. I have been friends with Rick Jedlicka for over 30 years. He is as good as it gets! Rick proved this in his twelve years as Mayor of Solon. As for Dick Schwab – he is one of the smartest, kindest, most giving individuals with whom I have ever had the privilege of working. He has proven himself on the Solon Board, and deserves reelection.

         Clear Creek: There is an at-large race and three district races. Interestingly, I know every person running for the Clear Creek Board. (Since I grew up closer to Solon and have lived in IC for 30 years, I am typically more familiar with them.) And while this might seem like a cop out, I think all the candidates are great! Eileen Schmidt, Lisa Beckmann, Steve Swenka, Mindy Lamb, and Jim Seelman are all excellent candidates. All have made major contributions to Johnson County. The people of the CCA District are lucky!

         Lone Tree: 3 candidates for 3 seats. Sorry, but I do not believe I know any of these folks. I do know they are all incumbents. I also know that Lone Tree has a history of electing write in candidates, so watch for that here.

         ICCSD: 9 candidates for 3 seats. Wow, was this tough! Just like the folks in CCA, people in the ICCSD are lucky! There are some excellent candidates here. As a matter of fact, I am going to go out on a limb, and say that this is the BEST group of candidates I have EVER seen in a Johnson County election! Lots of very qualified people!

         When the dust settled, I decided to support Karla Cook, Sara Barron, and Jim Tate.

Karla is an incumbent, and has taken the tough votes to move the ICCSD forward. The late Senator Everett Dirksen once said, “Any jackass can tear down a barn. But it takes a carpenter to build one.” That sums up my feelings about the ICCSD Board of the past two years. It is easy to oppose things. But what are you for? We spent a decade doing virtually nothing, paralyzed by fear. The current Board has been willing to take the tough votes. Even if things aren’t perfect, they are moving forward. I salute them. And because of her willingness to take a stand, I wholeheartedly support Karla Cook.

I have known Sara Barron for several years through her work at Big Brothers Big Sisters. BBBS is a FANTASTIC organization, and that reflects well on Sara. Sara is ridiculously intelligent, and comes from the Grant Wood neighborhood. The Chair of the local Republican Party criticized Sara for her sexual orientation, but I happen to believe such diversity serves us well.

         Jim Tate is a union brother, an employee at United Natural Foods and a steward for Teamsters Local 238. Governor Branstad spends lots of time telling us that teacher’s unions are the problem. I disagree. Want to make our schools better? I say empower the teachers! I know that Jim Tate will be a voice for the employees of the ICCSD.

         Did I leave out some good candidates? Yep. Perhaps even some great ones! As I said, this is the best field of candidates I have ever seen!

Whoever wins, I promise to reach out and offer to help them succeed. The public deserves nothing less.

*Film Scene
         I was recently treated to a nice introduction to the Film Scene project in downtown Iowa City. I have gone from a major skeptic to a supporter. Please allow me to explain why.

         First and foremost, my objection stemmed from the issue of TIF. I am SO tired of cities taking future tax dollars from the County and the schools and using it on their pet projects. I have written volumes as to why this is a bad practice. But the TIF deal here is done. The TIF money went to the building owner, not Film Scene. I needed to decide if I was going to punish Film Scene for the transgressions of Iowa City. I decided not to do so.

         My second concern was whether or not the location would be permanent. Film Scene Board Members educated me as to the landlord’s investment in the build out, and his agreement with the City. It appears Film Scene has a home for some time.

         My third concern was the relationship to the Bijou. I knew the Bijou was closing; I did not want to see the City taking on a responsibility (entertaining students) that should lie with the UI. I was reassured to learn that the Bijou donated most of its equipment (valued at about $100k). In addition, the UI will continue to pay salaries for student jobs at the theater.

I have always felt that the closing of the Campus Theaters in Old Capitol Mall left a huge void in downtown Iowa City. Even though they were big and ugly, they filled an important niche. Downtown NEEDS a movie house! I’m not alone in feeling that way; a recent poll rated “movie theater” as the number one need of downtown Iowa City.

         So, reassured, I have become a supporter of this new nonprofit organization. I plan to continue to hold their feet to the fire; meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy some flicks!

         I went online and made a donation. I hope you will, too. To donate or just learn more, see:

*DID YOU KNOW?  Iowa law prohibits school elections from being consolidated with any other type of election.

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

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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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