Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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October 12, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     10/17/17

In this edition:

*Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates
*City Council Endorsements
*IC Human Rights Awards
*Did You Know?

         It is pretty unusual for me to wait on endorsements. I pay pretty close attention to candidates, and typically endorse early. In 2008, I was behind Obama before virtually anyone else in Johnson County. In 2016, I was the first elected official in the whole country to endorse Bernie Sanders.

         But not this time. Not in Iowa’s Gubernatorial primary. This time, I am waiting a while.

         My fellow Supervisors have not waited around. Janelle Rettig endorsed Cathy Glasson several months ago. Mike Carberry endorsed Glasson a couple weeks ago, and Kurt Friese endorsed her a few days later. (I haven’t heard of Lisa Green Douglass endorsing anyone yet.)

So why am I waiting? First, I worked very hard on the ICCSD bond campaign. It was like having a second job for 5 months. Secondly, I worked hard for a couple ICCSD candidates. Thirdly, I am planning on working very hard on the upcoming City Council elections.

Local politics is important. The Gubernatorial people will do just fine without me, but City Council candidates just might need my help.

         So, I will certainly endorse a candidate for Governor. But not until after the November 7 city elections.

*Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates
         Though I am not endorsing just yet, it is worth noting that I have good relationships with several of the candidates.

         Needless to say, there are two candidates with Johnson County roots, and I have known both a long time. I met Cathy Glasson through my good friends Sarah Swisher and Pauline Taylor; all were instrumental in SEIU gaining recognition at UIHC. I know I met Cathy during that campaign, so it must have been sometime around 1997. Ross Wilburn first ran for the Iowa City Council in 1997, and I recall introducing myself to him at that time. So that means I’ve known each for 20 years. Cathy’s husband is the President of my union, AFT 716. Ross’ daughter Alex is one of my daughter Jordan’s best friends. 

But believe it or not, that is not even close to the longest I have known a Gubernatorial candidate! I met John Norris when he headed up the Jesse Jackson campaign in the 1980s! My friend and mentor Dave Leshtz introduced me to John way back then, and we had some good times in our Rainbow Coalition! We did well, too – Jackson finished second to Paul Simon, and Johnson County was among his best counties in the whole US!

         As for the other candidates - I have met Andy McGuire on a few occasions, but cannot say I know her well. I have met Nate Boulton three or four times, but only since the last Legislative session. I have met Jon Niederbach two or three times, and I have never met Fred Hubbell, though I was invited to do so and could not attend.

         So how about you, Salvos readers? Do you support Governor Reynolds, Mayor Corbett, or one of the Dems?

*City Council Endorsements
         I live in Iowa City, so I will reserve my Council endorsements for that city alone. I am supporting Mazahir Salih, Kingsley Botchway, and Ryan Hall for the Iowa City Council.

         Mazahir is smart, kind, compassionate, and a very hard worker. A Civil Engineer by trade, she will bring a keen eye to city projects. More importantly, Mazahir has been a community leader since arriving in Iowa City over 6 years ago. A cofounder of the Center for Worker Justice, Mazahir has played a key role in Johnson County’s adoption of the Community ID and increase of the minimum wage. If elected, Mazahir would be our first Muslim Councilor, first black female Councilor, and first Councilor of Sudanese decent.

         Kingsley can be described by the same adjectives I used for Mazahir. He is smart, kind, compassionate, and a very hard worker. He has been a strong advocate for programs that assist needy residents. Kingsley has advocated for affordable housing, fighting food insecurity, and for greater opportunities for people with disabilities. He helped the Council to make the right decision in the wake of Rose Oaks, and voted the right way on that issue. Just as importantly, he has been a leader in our community conversations on race.

         Ryan Hall is a relative newcomer to Iowa City, but has made a big impression in a short time. Ryan served as an Americorp in three different capacities in three different states. He is now finishing his education in Environmental Planning at the UI. As a 24-year-old undergrad, Ryan would be the first student on the Council since David Perret in 1979.

         I will have more to say on local politics in upcoming editions of Salvos. Stay tuned!

*IC Human Rights Awards
         The Iowa City Human Rights Commission is hosting its annual Human Rights Awards Breakfast on Wednesday, October 25th at 7:30 AM at the IMU.

         I have said it before, and I’ll say it again – this is one of the deciding factors for me in choosing to live in Iowa City. Human Rights matter, and it is great to see a community that recognizes that.

         I want to call particular attention to the Bill Reagan Award, which this year is going to my friend Greg Hearns. The President of the Iowa City Federation of Labor, Greg is a great guy who really works hard and never takes his eye off the goal of social justice. He is also the first winner in the 30+year history of the awards whose primary interest is organized labor. It is about time!

 Congratulations to the City of Iowa City, the Human Rights Commission, all the nominees, and all the winners!

*DID YOU KNOW?  The record for highest vote total in an Iowa City Council election is 10,449 by Ross Wilburn in 2007. Wilburn was uncontested in the District A race. Turnout that year was over 34%!

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

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