Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


February 1, 2018

Sullivan’s Salvos     2/6/18

In this edition:

*We’re Number One!
*Supporting Candidates
*Consistency With Candidates
*Did You Know?

*We’re Number One!
Johnson County was recently named No. 1 in the state for workplace safety by the Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association (IMWCA).

As an employer, Johnson County has the best Experience Modification Factor (EMF) out of 79 counties in the IMWCA program and the second best overall EMF of the nearly 500 entities and organizations in IMWCA. The EMF is based on an entity’s workplace injury history—both the number of injuries and the severity of those injuries.

Johnson County employs more than 550 individuals who provide a variety of services to County residents, including law enforcement, ambulance, road and bridge maintenance, public transportation, elections, social services, conservation, among others.  

“By continuing to be a leader in the safety of its employees, Johnson County has not only reduced its annual premiums by 40 percent of the national average per NCCI, but IMWCA has provided additional credits because they felt it wasn’t enough of a discount. After all of the credits are put together, Johnson County is only paying a third of the national average for a similarly sized entity,” Kyle Austen, agent and partner of Insurance Associates of Iowa City, said. “While commitment to safety can be measured in a dollar amount on the policy, what can’t be measured in this figure is the improvement of the employees’ quality of life as they go home each night safe and happy.”

Each year, more than four million workers suffer serious job-related injuries or illnesses and 4,000 Americans die in work-related incidents. These incidents not only hurt workers and their families, but also negatively impact business and the economy. Safer organizations enjoy increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction and a better reputation, while lowering workers’ compensation and healthcare costs and reducing the amount of lost time. 

*Supporting Candidates
What does it mean to “support” a candidate? I was part of a Facebook discussion on this topic, and thought it was an interesting exercise. Obviously, one type of “support” you can offer a candidate is your vote. Personally, I have never viewed *just* voting for a candidate as “supporting” that candidate. (I have friends who disagree.)

To me, “supporting” a candidate means going beyond just voting. It means doing something public. Doing something public means you are taking a personal risk. You are willing to be held accountable. That is a big step for some people – a very bright line.

And this makes sense. The public nature means you are opening yourself up to criticism. You have to really believe in the person to be willing to open yourself up. You risk disagreements with family, friends, and neighbors.

In my mind, writing a letter to the editor, putting up a sign, making a financial contribution, knocking doors, making phone calls, putting your opinions on your personal social media, putting your name on a public list, attending public events, serving on a committee, volunteering in other ways – these are the ways in which you “support” a candidate. (I’m sure my list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea.)

Perhaps this is too personal for me. I have my own campaigns, and I definitely remember when a person offers support above and beyond voting. I have worked on scores of Federal, State, County, City, and School campaigns, and I definitely pay attention to the people who do more than vote. To me, the people who make those extra efforts are the “supporters”.

But, “supporter” is just a word. Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you feel I have the right idea, and the wrong word. What are your thoughts?

*Consistency With Candidates
         There is another topic related to supporting candidates that deserves some discussion. I often hear people criticizing others over a lack of “consistency” when choosing which candidates to support. And I agree, because we are pretty much all inconsistent in this area to some degree.

         I spent years arguing for the Iowa Democratic Party to nominate a woman for Governor and/or Federal office. I really hoped Sally Pedersen would run after Governor Vilsack stepped down.

         But you know what? Iowa HAS a female Governor now. And I am horrified! I think Governor Reynolds is taking us down a disastrous path that might take a generation from which to recover. I wanted a woman for Governor, but I didn’t want THIS woman.

         There were lots of people who were adamant supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016 whose reasoning was, “It is time for a woman.” Hard to argue. Except that many of the same people supported Obama over Clinton in 2008. Wasn’t it “Time for a Woman“ then?

Of course it was. This simply illustrates that our number one reason for voting in 2016 may not influence our 2018 vote at all. There can be perfectly good reasons to go a different direction. I just wish we were all a bit more honest about it.

Most people say something very similar to this: “All things being equal, I would choose an African American candidate.” But “all things being equal” is a completely subjective concept. That leaves it wide open as to whether or not all things ARE in fact equal. When you want the African American candidate, you will claim things were equal. When you want the white candidate, you will find an explanation that allows you to support the white candidate.

         I have typically voted for more progressive candidates. That is probably the first filter through which I look. And I would say I have been more consistent than most. But I do not ALWAYS choose the most progressive of the bunch. Sometimes the most progressive of the bunch is a terrible candidate!

         We are all hypocrites when choosing candidates. We say we want someone young; the next cycle we vote for someone in her 70s. We say we want someone smart; the next cycle we vote against a Princeton grad. We say we want people of color; the next cycle we overlook qualified African American candidates. We say we will only vote for a candidate who endorses universal health care; then we vote for someone who believes otherwise.

         We ALL do this. We are ALL hypocrites. The only questions are A) How big a hypocrite are you? And B) Will you admit it?

         I do wish the people supporting political candidates would be more honest about WHY they support the candidates they do. It would help eliminate a lot of the hypocrisy, and we wouldn’t have to walk around in this bubble of cognitive dissonance.

         That said, you can see why supporters do not do this. It is much easier to stand up and give a speech saying, “It is time for a woman on the Council” than to give a speech saying, “I absolutely hate that guy.” It doesn’t matter that you voted against the last seven women who ran for Council; it sounds better.

         When it comes to politics, Johnson County can be pretty “small town”. We all know who cheated on his spouse. We all know who fired whom. We all know whose kid went to jail. There are lifelong friendships, lifelong hatreds, and all different types of perceived slights. Candidates know who has worked against them in the past. Our politics can get quite parochial.

         My advice? People are going to vote for whomever they wish. If you are trying to convince someone to vote for your candidate, understand that the person you are speaking with is under no obligation to be consistent. Then be as honest as you can be. I think that is the best we can do.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Former Johnson County Supervisor Betty Ockenfels was involved in the two closest primary victories in modern Johnson County Supervisor history. Ockenfels defeated Bob Lynch by 37 votes to secure the final Supervisor nomination in the 1980 Democratic Party Primary, then defeated former Iowa City Mayor and Iowa State Senator Mary Neuhauser by 71 votes to secure the final spot in 1984.

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