Democrat Jon Green wins supervisor seat in Johnson County special election

The former Lone Tree Mayor will replace Janelle Rettig as a Johnson County Supervisor after receiving 66.1 percent of the vote, according to unofficial numbers from the Johnson County Auditor’s office.


Natalie Dunlap

Jon Green stands at the bar with his girlfriend of three years, Eleanore Taft, as they wait for polls to close on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Green won the special election for Johnson County Supervisor with 66.1 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial election night results.

Natalie Dunlap, News Editor

Jon Green drank a Guinness beer in celebration after the results of the Johnson County Special election came in Tuesday night. Surrounded by supporters at Deadwood Tavern in Iowa City, the Democratic candidate was told he won the race for Johnson County Supervisor.  

Green, the former mayor of Lone Tree, beat out Republican Phil Hemingway, and another Democrat who ran as an Independent, Brian Campbell. 

Unofficial results from the Johnson County auditor’s office reported that Green won 66.1 percent of the vote, Hemingway secured 30.6 percent, and Campbell received 3.2 percent. The race had a 16.64 percent turnout rate. 

According to auditor Travis Weipert, all results are unofficial until the canvas next week. 

While campaigning, Green said Democratic turnout would be crucial in this small election. He said the campaign was successful in turning out Democrats because of volunteers, the Johnson County Democrats, local groups, and his girlfriend, Eleanore Taft, who Green said is an “organizational genius.” 

“It wasn’t me. I had a hell of a lot of good volunteers, a lot of people that put in a lot of hard work. The weather’s been miserable, it’s been too hot, it’s been muggy, but people have been getting out there for me,” he told The Daily Iowan. “I owe a debt of gratitude to everybody that came together.”

Green also noted he was grateful for an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. 

Green’s campaign manager Tom Carsher, who was wearing a blue “Bernie” cap Tuesday night, said Green was a unique Democrat because he has rural and western roots he feels the party needs. 

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Carsher said he felt Green benefitted from the momentum of the 2020 election. 

This race was Hemingway’s fourth attempt to secure a supervisor seat — he was the Republican nominee for the Board of Supervisors in the 2018 special election, general election, and the 2020 general election. 

He told the DI that even though he’s lost before, the news was still a “gut punch.” 

“I think the issues I brought up are the talking points of everyone now, it’s up to the candidate that is successful to live up to the rhetoric and not let it just be campaign bluster, but true commitment.” said Hemingway, who also has rural roots that he spoke about in his campaign. “… If he’s going to represent all the county and the rural people, he has to prove it.”

Hemingway also noted that he was more successful than Green in rural areas, including the Fremont/Lincoln/Lone Tree precinct where Hemingway received 220 votes and Green received 111. 

Key issues in Hemingway’s campaign included fiscal oversight and respect for law enforcement. 

Green said he wants to get to work on distributing the $29 million COVID-19 relief funds The National Association of Counties estimated Johnson County will receive from the American Rescue Plan. 

He said the county will need to have those funds allocated by fiscal year 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

“I’m of two minds on that. On the first hand, we’ve got until ’26 to do it, so let’s do it right, let’s do it thoughtfully, but on the other hand, there’s also a hell of a degree of urgency for folks who are hurting right now,” he said. “If you look around at the people who are behind the bar, who work in kitchens, they’ve taken it on the fucking teeth, and we need to get aid to them right now.” 

Green will fill the seat vacated by Janelle Rettig, who announced in April she was resigning after a decade of service. Green will serve until Rettig’s term is set to end, on December 31, 2022. 

“I’ve got to spend the next year and a half ensuring that I don’t disappoint folks, and I also hope that I have the opportunity to reach out and work with folks who don’t agree with me because I know a lot of folks don’t,” he said. “We need to collaborate, we need to argue, argument is a good thing. That’s how we figure out the best way to move forward.”