Supervisor candidates speak at forum
Two Democrat and two Republican candidates for the District 3 seat on the Washington County Board of Supervisors participated in a candidates’ forum sponsored by Free County, Tuesday evening, at the Conservation Education Center. They were Democrats Ceanne Alvine and Keith Cutcomp and Republicans Scott Davis and Abe Miller. The seat is currently held by Steve Davis, who is not seeking re-election.
Free County chair James Graham said that the organization wanted the public to have the opportunity to hear what the candidates have to say before the primary election on Tuesday, June 3.
Moderator Bill Walker introduced the candidates to the audience. He explained the format for the forum, saying that each candidate could make opening and closing comments, and that they would answer questions from the audience.
The forum began at 6:30 and the last question was asked about 8 p.m.
Cutkomp is from Ainsworth. He said he has lived in Washington County since 1958. He was a farmer for about 25 years and now has a trucking business. He is thinking about retiring. He is running for supervisor because he thinks it will be an interesting challenge, and he wants to do what’s right for the county.
Alvine said she was born in Washington. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa (UI). She spent much of her working career as a nurse and nursing home administrator in Arizona. She teaches one day a week at UI. She wants to make Washington County a better place to live and to grow.
Miller has lived in Brighton for 19 years. He is a Free County member and one of his concerns is the county’s gravel roads. He owns a commercial roofing business.
Davis is a lifelong resident of the Crawfordsville area. He has been on the Crawfordsville City Council and would bring that experience to the board of supervisors. He farms in both Washington and Louisa counties. He said he would listen with an open mind and think things out as a supervisor.
Questions ranged from understanding what a county supervisor does to opinions on county zoning, and from how they would make decisions, to possible conflict between farmers and rural subdivision residents.
One of the questions was about confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). The question stated that the supervisors deal with one or two CAFOs a month, and then asked if they thought a matrix system would be beneficial. All four candidates said they don’t think the county should add another layer of regulations to CAFOs, and they are satisfied with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulations.
Another question dealt with county zoning.
Cutkomp said he was against zoning at first, but that over time he saw that it might have some benefits. He would have favored “tweaking” the ordinance, but he also said he wouldn’t pursue a new zoning ordinance.
Alvine and Miller are not in favor of county zoning. Alvine said the zoning issue “is a sore that is healing.” Miller said he worked to rescind the ordinance for three years as a Free County member.
Davis said as someone who farms in a county without a zoning ordinance and another with zoning, he gets along fine with both. He said it wasn’t up to him to say if he does or doesn’t favor zoning. Zoning would depend on what kind of businesses would want to come to Washington County.
A question about the state law requiring gender balance on commissions and committees was asked. Alvine pointed out that she is the only woman running for supervisor and electing her would bring diversity to the board.
When asked what one of the future “hot-button items” the county could face, Davis said the county needs to draw businesses and industry to the county. Cutkomp said that money is always an issue, but that country roads would likely come up again. Alvine cited economic growth and the need for more diversity in the county’s economic growth and attracting more jobs. Miller talked about gravel roads, saying that some of the roads are too narrow.
Free County will hold a candidates’ forum for the people seeking a seat on the board of supervisors beginning at 6:30 p.m. May 13, at the Brighton Community Center; and for county attorney candidates at 6:30 p.m. May 20, at the Washington Public Library.