Candidates for legislature and supervisor seats gathered to discuss relevant issues


Johnson County Board of Supervisors candidates addressed primary issues for the county prior to the upcoming election, specifically the courthouse annex and education during the last public forum on the issues.

Supervisors Janelle Rettig and John Etheredge were in attendance, as well as candidate Mike Carberry.

The three of them addressed issues ranging from the courthouse annex to the militarization of police enforcement.

All three candidates were in full support of the courthouse annex, and Rettig went as far to say that it should be the No. 1 priority.

“You can’t export your courthouse, but you can do that with inmates,” she said. “Our courthouse is a beautiful building, but it was built for a different time.”

At the time the courthouse was built, there were approximately 30,000 people in Johnson County. Now, there are around 140,000, which results in inmates being in jail longer, court dates being delayed, and an array of other problems.

Currently, the project is projected to cost approximately $33.4 million.

Carberry said he is supports the courthouse annex, but he would have liked to see the cost of it significantly lower.

Etheredge was also in consensus with Carberry about the cost.

“I do have a lot of reserves about the $33.4 million,” he said. “I just want to make sure that every dollar we spend is necessary and is spent wisely.”

Though the three were in a general agreement about the courthouse annex, the issue regarding militarization of police enforcement sparked some differing opinions.

Mine-resistant ambush-protective vehicles — one of which the county owns — were debated back and forth.

Rettig stated she has a growing concern regarding the issue of police militarization.

“I think that military vehicles and SWAT gear can actually escalate a situation rather than deescalate it,” she said.

Carberry said he agreed “with Janelle almost entirely,” going on to say that more community policing is necessary.

“We’ve seen things like down in Ferguson how the militarization of police forces can escalate a situation,” he said. “If the [vehicle] comes out, it could get ugly. I’d like to de-escalate this situation by returning those vehicles for a full refund.”

Though Rettig and Carberry were wary about the potential harms increased militarization of police forces could bring, Etheredge defended it.

“The [armoured vehicle] is not an offensive vehicle,” he said. “[It’s] basically a shield on wheels to house our officers and keep them protected while they are performing their duty to protect the people of Johnson County.”

Legislature candidates were also present at the forum, and they focused on the topic of education in Iowa.

Several states have passed Dream Act legislation, which allows students who are not citizens but meet certain criteria to receive in-state tuition.

House candidate Bobby Kauffman, who referred to himself as a pro-education candidate, stated he would support anyone and everyone to come to this state legally, and he would support the Dream Act.

Senate candidate Kevin Kinney said he feels if students are in Iowa, they should be able to have in-state tuition.

House candidate David Johnson said if such a bill were to come to Iowa, it would be a “no-brainer,” because there are about 8,000 to 13,000 undocumented minors going to school in Iowa.

“Whatever your view is on whether or not they are illegal is irrelevant,” he said. “How do we want them to fit into our society? Do we want them to be productive citizens? We should try to give education to as many citizens as we can.”

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