Officials call for special election
Voters in Washington County Supervisor District 5 will choose who they want to represent them on the board of supervisors by special election.
Auditor Dan Widmer, Recorder Jo Greiner and Treasurer Jeff Garrett made the decision to fill the vacancy created when Supervisor Ron Bennett resigned for health reasons, in accordance with Iowa Code section 69.8(4).
Greiner said they had two options for filling the vacancy — by appointment or by special election. Since the supervisor’s seat is an elected position, Widmer, Greiner and Garrett said, the voters in District 5 should choose their representatives.
Garrett said that he faced this decision in 2001 when a supervisor died in office.
“I was unlucky enough to be around to do this when Ray Lasek passed away unexpectedly,” he said. “I know at that time I received a lot of feedback on both sides, whether to appoint someone or to opt for an election. After going through that process the last time, I kind of always told myself that I had learned through that process that, if it ever happened again, I would opt to push for an election right off the bat.”
Widmer said that he spent some time last week with Iowa’s 99 county auditors at an Iowa State Association of Counties meeting. He also sent out a statewide e-mail to get input from other auditors.
“Although the comments were for both ways, the general consensus was that an election is the best way to go,” he said. “I would tend at this point to also favor going the election route.”
Widmer estimated that the special election might cost a maximum of $3,000.
Greiner said that the cost of a special election is a concern.
“It was pointed out to me that we wouldn’t be paying one supervisor’s salary, so it might kind of be equal in the wash,” she said.
If the officials had appointed someone to fill the post, the electors in District 5 could have petitioned for a special election.
Former supervisor Randy Payne attended and said that the District 5 seat would be up for election in 2014.
Election-clerk Sue Meeks suggested the special election be held Oct. 8. She said the county Democrat and Republican parties would need to choose their candidates in a convention and those decisions would be made by District 5 delegates in each party.
People who want to run for office independently need to be from District 5 and they need to gather 30 signatures from District 5 on their nominating papers.
Meeks said that candidates may take out nomination papers from now until Sept. 13. The county conventions would also need to be held before the Sept. 13 deadline.
The newly elected supervisor could be sworn into office after the official canvass of the election when the results would be certified, Meeks said.