Democrats and Republicans nominate their candidates for Board of Supervisors

Phil Hemingway gets a second chance while Royceanne Porter aims to make history.


Joseph Cress

School board member Phil Hemingway speaks during Iowa City school board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

As the Dec. 18 special election for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approaches, Republicans and Democrats of Johnson County have chosen their candidates for the position.

The special election is being held after the death of Supervisor Kurt Friese on Oct. 26.

In a convention held on Nov. 20, Johnson County Democrats nominated Royceann Porter as their candidate. Porter was chosen over Pat Harney, who had served on the board for 16 years before retiring in 2016.

“It was awesome,” Porter said about being nominated. “It was just a great feeling.”

Harney tweeted on Nov. 21 that he had received requests to put his name on the ballot despite not getting the nomination, but he decided against it.

Royceanne Porter

“I will continue to be a voice for the many issues we share as we all do everything we can to make Johnson County a great place to live and work,” he said in the tweet.

Porter has extensive experience in public service. She currently sits on the Community Police Review Board and works as an organizer for the Teamsters Union.

Porter hopes her experience in public service will help her on the board. Areas she wants to focus on include homelessness, racial disparity, and public safety.

Transportation is another area that Porter emphasized as needing improvement. She said transportation at night and on Sundays needs to be improved, especially for people with disabilities.

If elected, Porter would be the first African American elected to a countywide office in Johnson County. She said she was happy to be part of Johnson County’s progressive history.

“I just think this is a wonderful, wonderful thing, being a historic candidate,” she said.

On Nov. 24, Johnson County Republicans unanimously nominated Iowa City School Board member Phil Hemingway as their candidate.

Hemingway ran in the general election on Nov. 6, losing to incumbent Janelle Rettig and Pat Heiden and garnering 31 percent of the vote.

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Hemingway hopes his previous experience gives him a better shot during this election.

“I’d like to think I have a little name recognition from the first time around,” he said.

Hemingway’s priorities for his campaign haven’t changed since the November election. He wants to focus on mental-health care, as well as being a voice for the rural residents of Johnson County.

Johnson County Republicans Chair Cindy Michael said she was optimistic about the December election, but that it would still be difficult for Hemingway.

“Royceann is going to be a competitive candidate, so it’s not a walk in the park for anybody,” she said.

Though they’ll face one another, the two candidates are actually good friends. Porter said Hemingway called her when she announced her candidacy to congratulate her.

“I’ve known Royceann for many years, and I will never have an unkind word to say about her,” Hemingway said.

Both candidates said they plan to stay civil and friendly despite differences of opinion. Hemingway hopes the campaign can be an example and that they can have constructive discussions.

“We’re not going to be trying to name-call or throw dirt at each other,” Porter said.