Republican Phil Hemingway joins race for Johnson County Supervisor

The Johnson County Republicans nominated a candidate on August 18 for the Board of Supervisors. There hasn’t been a Republican on the board since 1958.


Katina Zentz

Johnson County supervisor candidate Phil Hemingway stands for a portrait in his mechanic shop on Wednesday. The Johnson County Republican Party has nominated Hemingway to run for county supervisor.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

Iowa City School Board member Phil Hemingway hopes to be the first Republican to win a seat on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in a general election since 1958.

Hemingway was nominated by the Johnson County Republicans on Aug. 18 as a candidate for the board. He is running for one of two open seats in the Nov. 6 election.

The Johnson County Republicans were not available for comment.

Statistics from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office show that 46 percent of the county’s active voters are registered Democrat, while only 20 percent are registered Republican. Hemingway hopes he can sway some voters to avoid voting along party lines and consider his positions on local issues.

“When you’re working in county politics, it’s roads and bridges,” he said. “Roads aren’t Republican, and bridges aren’t Democrat.”

Hemingway noted a report placing Iowa’s bridges and roads at ninth worst in the nation. He wants to improve upon that.

Other issues he is concerned with are water quality, mental-health services, and natural resources. He hopes his rural background can provide perspective for these and other issues that come before the supervisors.

“My family has been in the county since 1852,” Hemingway said. “Being good stewards of the land is important to me.”

He was born and raised in Iowa City. He has worked in Central America, the Soviet Union, and Africa.

“After seeing the world, there’s no other place that I’d rather be than Johnson County,” he said.

Despite Hemingway’s optimism, Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglas does not see him as a viable candidate.

“I think if you go over elections in the last 50 years in the county, you’ll have your answers,” she said about Hemingway’s chances of winning.

Hemingway will face incumbent Supervisor Janelle Rettig and Democratic candidate Pat Heiden in a general election on Nov. 6. Rettig and Heiden were expected to run unopposed after winning the Democratic primary in June.

As an incumbent in her second term, Rettig has a major advantage over the other candidates. As reported by The Daily Iowan in June, she led the Democratic primary race. Rettig said she wants to address hunger, housing, mental health, and infrastructure in the coming year.

Rettig emphasized that, while implementing progressive policies and providing services to the people of the county is important to her, she also cares about keeping a balanced budget.

“I’m a progressive, a liberal,” she said. “I’m tested, I have experience, and I pay attention to the numbers.”

Heiden is the former executive director of Oaknoll Retirement Residence. Some of the issues she wants to focus on are caring for the elderly, improving mental-health services, and conserving natural resources.

“I will be a strong, compassionate, and effective voice who will give all the people of Johnson County a seat at the table,” she said in an email to the DI.

Facebook Comments