Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


September 7, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/12/17

In this edition:

*Get Out And Vote!
*One Community. One Bond.
*Richard Mentor Johnson
*Did You Know?

*Get Out And Vote!
         School Board elections are upon us! Johnson County is the “control county” for 4 school districts – Iowa City, Clear Creek-Amana, Solon, and Lone Tree. Each has elections; please get out and vote!

*One Community. One Bond.
         As you all know, I have been heavily involved in the ICCSD bond vote. I have had a few people ask me – some joking, some seriously – “Why did you volunteer for that?”

         I know the word around the Board of Supervisors office was quite clear – “Avoid taking any kind of stance on this!” I heard it several times. But sometimes you need to just take a stand, regardless of whether or not it might cost you a few votes.

Why get so involved? There are several answers, but the bottom line? The fight for public education is real! I have talked the talk through many state and federal elections. I have talked the talk through many platform committees. If I can’t walk the walk and stand up for this topic at this time, I should be ashamed.

Today I proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with our teachers, in support of the 14,000 children in the ICCSD. And I could not be more proud!

         I am sure by now you have all hear that President Trump is undoing DACA, throwing the lives of over 800,000 young people into limbo. Is there is a more cruel, pointless, nasty thing the Attorney General and President could do? (I do not want to know the answer to that!)

*Richard Mentor Johnson
         I recently finished an interesting book on the Election of 1840 – William Henry Harrison versus Martin Van Buren. Harrison and running mate John Tyler (“Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!”) defeated the incumbent Martin Van Buren and his Vice President, Richard Mentor Johnson.

This election is generally viewed as the first modern Presidential campaign, and gave us several common words and phrases: OK, hell-bent, keep the ball rolling, The Buckeye State, booze, and many more!

         There were two really interesting local angles to the book. First, it is remarkable how many of the counties in Iowa are named for the political players of that era. I had never really stopped and thought about it until this book. Secondly, it was interesting to learn more about Richard Mentor Johnson, the man for whom Johnson County is named.

         Johnson was born and raised in Kentucky, and became a hero of the War of 1812. Johnson repeatedly led troops into battle despite being shot 5 times himself!

         Johnson is known as the “Man who killed Tecumseh.” Tecumseh was a great Native American leader who organized many tribes together to fight the Americans and preserve a Native homeland. He was killed at the Battle of Thames in 1813, and unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end of meaningful Native claims on land in the US. It is said that Johnson personally killed Tecumseh, though historical records vary. Whatever the truth is, Johnson led the US Army in battles that killed thousands of Native people.

         This history as a General made Johnson, known as “Old Dick”, very popular. That popularity began to wane, however, when it was discovered that Johnson had a long-term relationship with a slave named Julia Chinn. Chinn and Johnson had two daughters, and he considered her his wife, though they were not allowed to be married.

         Johnson had a confusing relationship with his daughters/slaves. He insisted that his daughters were his property, but also paid for their education and left them inheritances. After Chinn died, Johnson took up with another slave. When she left him for another man, he had her sold away. Johnson’s flouting of the laws against racial mixing made him a huge liability for the Democrats, and he was dropped from the ticket.

         It is interesting to consider the naming of Johnson County in light of the recent movement toward eliminating Confederate monuments. Should we consider naming Johnson Country after someone else?

         Obviously, changing the name of the County itself would cause millions of problems for thousands of people. But what about honoring a DIFFERENT Johnson?

         There is precedence for such a move. King County, Washington – home to Seattle – was named for William Rufus King, Vice President when Washington was founded and later an Alabama Confederate. In 1986, the King County Board of Supervisors kept the name “King County”, but renamed it for MLK.

         So – what other Johnsons do we have? I am a huge fan of the domestic policies of LBJ, but his Viet Nam legacy would likely be too upsetting for too many. What about Lady Bird? She was one of the original environmentalists.

         Other possibilities include Bluesman Robert Johnson or Civil Rights Leader James Johnson. What do you think? Should we “rename” Johnson County?

*DID YOU KNOW?  James Weldon Johnson was a civil rights activist, writer, composer, politician, educator and lawyer, as well as one of the leading figures in the creation and development of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Johnson to diplomatic positions in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Upon his return in 1914, Johnson became involved with the NAACP, and by 1920, was serving as chief executive of the organization. In 1900, James and his brother, John, wrote the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which would later become the official anthem of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (The Johnson brothers would go on to write more than 200 songs for the Broadway musical stage.) Source:

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

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



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home