Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 19, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     12/23/14

In this edition:

*Merry Christmas!
*Holiday Office Schedule
*Salvos Salutes Next Week!
*Iowa City Charter
*John Etheredge
*Did You Know?

*Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

*Holiday Office Schedule
         A quick note on the Johnson County schedule for the holidays – administrative offices will be open on Wednesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve), but then closed on Thursday the 25th (Christmas) and Friday the 26th.

         Offices will be open on Wednesday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve), closed Thursday, January 1st (New Year’s Day), and open again on Friday, January 2nd.

         As always, the Sheriff’s Office, 911 dispatch, Medical Examiner’s Office, and Ambulance service will be running 24/7/365.

*Salvos Salutes Next Week!
We live in a GREAT county! Why? Because of the great people that live here! Unfortunately, we rarely do enough to acknowledge these wonderful people and the wonderful things they do.

         That is why I really look forward to Salvos Salutes. It provides an opportunity to mention just a few of these cool people and the good things they do. I hope you look forward to it as well!

Iowa City Charter
The Iowa City Charter Review Commission has been appointed by the City Council to review the Iowa City Charter. Pursuant to the existing Charter, amendments recommended by the Commission must either be adopted by the City Council or placed on a ballot for consideration by Iowa City voters. A community discussion on potential Charter amendments will be held Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, at 6 p.m., in Room A of the Iowa City Public Library (123 S. Linn St.).

In the first part of the meeting the specific issues to be discussed include:

(1) Election of Mayor - The Mayor is currently selected for a two-year term by a majority vote of the City Council members. Assuming the Mayor's powers and responsibilities remain largely the same, should the Mayor instead be directly elected for a four-year term by a majority vote of the citizens? This would require one of the at-large council positions to be designated as the Mayor's slot.

(2) District Representation - Currently there are three district Council Members and four at-large Council Members. In a primary election, only voters from within that district participate. In the general election for those district seats all Iowa City voters may participate. Should the district Council Members be elected only by the voters within the applicable district?

(3) Initiative/Referendum - requirement for qualified versus eligible. The City Charter allows individuals to submit initiative and referendum petitions to the City Council. When presented to Council those petitions must either be adopted by Council or submitted to the voters for consideration. Currently individuals are required to be "qualified electors" (registered to voter) to sign such petitions. Should the Charter be amended to allow "eligible electors" (persons eligible to register to vote) to sign such petitions?

(4) Council Compensation - Currently the Charter requires that Council set its compensation by ordinance, and the present annual salary for the Mayor is $8,070 and Council Members $7,072. Some have argued that this salary discourages some people from running for City Council. Should the Charter require a higher level of compensation for Council Members and the Mayor to better reflect the time required to serve in those positions?

In the second part of the meeting the public may raise any other issues relevant to the Charter. The Charter Review Commission invites everyone to be a part of this public discussion. Additional information can be found on the City website at

*John Etheredge
         December 31st marks the last day in office for Supervisor John Etheredge, and I wanted to take a few moments to share my thoughts on my colleague.

         As you probably know, John was the first Republican elected to the Board since 1958. He had run for the Board as an independent in 2012, but the campaign was pretty amateurish. I overheard media folks wondering if John was even a real person, because they couldn’t reach him! I never even met him during the course of the campaign, which was a first for me.

John decided to run again, this time as a Republican, for the opening created by Sally Stutsman’s election to the Iowa House. Most observers noted that his March 5, 2013 election was literally and figuratively a “perfect storm” – voters were worn out from the 2012 Presidential election; local Democrats were complacent, while the local GOP worked very hard; and 6 inches of snow the night before the election closed every school in the county, dramatically driving down turnout (to about 6%). Add all those factors together, and John squeaked past Democrat Terry Dahms by just 193 votes.

         No one knew quite what to expect when John took office – particularly John! I think he would agree that he was quite naïve at first. For people who had been accustomed to Supervisor Stutsman’s mastery of all things county, this was a BIG change!

         Then there were some early votes. John had campaigned on property rights, but voted against Sharon Dooley’s property rights. He voted against resolutions supporting Earth Day and LGBTQ Pride Month. Followers of county government were expecting 18 months of fireworks.

         But that never materialized. I think there are several reasons for this. First, John was never well connected to the local Republican Party. (Remember, he had run as an independent in ’12.) I was shocked to learn that after a full year in office, he had never even met some of the real stalwarts of the local GOP. Letters to the editor often quickly demonstrated that the writer did not know John. John was never really engaged in the party, so he never really engaged in party politics. He had plenty of opportunities, but he never did so.

         Here is an example: if one were a calloused political player, they would have advised John to vote against the budget no matter what. Just sit back and claim the other Supervisors are “tax and spend liberals.” But John never did that. In fact, he supported GREATER spending in some areas than I did! More importantly, he recognized that the whole budget process had been a series of compromises, and to vote “no” after securing those compromises would have been dirty pool. John refused to play that game.

         Secondly, John worked incredibly hard to get up to speed. He is bright, and picks things up quickly. He asked a lot of questions, and did a lot of studying. I am impressed by the strides he made in just a few months.

         John was also much more open-minded than I had anticipated him being. (That was clearly my error!) He would listen to both sides, and he often came around to what would be considered the “progressive” view of a given issue. When he didn’t, he usually had his reasons.

         Finally, and most importantly, John is a wonderful human being. We do not agree on all the political issues of the day; we may not even agree on half. But give me a colleague who is honest, trustworthy, loyal, sincere, kind, considerate, thoughtful, and modest ANY DAY! I found working with John to be a real pleasure, and I am going to miss him!

         Our potlucks will definitely go downhill; John is a GREAT cook, and makes an amazing cheesecake! It was also fun working with someone so young (John is only 30), and who has such a great sense of humor. And it was touching to watch John become a new father. I am really glad I got to be around for that.

         If you are reading this and have some kind of a job opening – I honestly don’t know how you could do better than hiring John Etheredge. He is one of the finest young men I know. Please give him due consideration – he would be a real asset to any organization!

         Meanwhile, good luck, John, on your future endeavors. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve with you!

*DID YOU KNOW?  Elected at age 29, John Etherege is believed to have been the youngest Supervisor in Johnson County history.

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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