The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

JoCo Board of Supervisors candidate forum discusses affordable housing, new jail

Five Democratic Johnson County Board of Supervisors candidates took questions at the forum addressing affordable housing and a bond referendum on a new jail.
Sara Stumpff
A gavel is seen before a Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Johnson County Administration Building in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

Affordable Housing was a key issue at a League of Women Voters’ Johnson County Board of Supervisors candidate forum on Tuesday night in the Iowa City Senior Center. 

The forum hosted all five candidates for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors where candidates answered questions from the audience on topics ranging from affordable housing to a new county jail building. 

All five candidates running are Democrats, and only three can be nominated for the November general election. All three incumbent supervisors — Royceann Porter, Rod Sullivan, and Lisa Green-Douglass — are running for reelection. Iowa City activist Mandi Remington and Iowa State Patrol officer Bob Conrad are also running for one of the three Democratic tickets in the June 4 primary.

 With a deficit of over 8,000 affordable housing units in Johnson County, all candidates have listed affordable housing as one of their top priorities. 

Remington said that the county needs to apply creative solutions to affordable housing like incentivizing landlords to stagger lease end dates to prevent residents from being without housing for a week between leases. 

“I have a lot of ideas that need to be brought to the table for affordable housing,” Remington said. “I’ve been renting in this community my entire adult life, and it’s a struggle.” 

Porter said she would continue to support funding for affordable housing programs at the county level, and better leveraging existing funds. 

“One thing is to strengthen our partnership with the Housing Trust Fund to ensure efficient use of funds while affordable housing projects,” Porter said. “We can also support the shelter house by continuing to keep the money available because affordable housing in Johnson County is not affordable.”

Conrad said he would focus on bettering partnerships with local stakeholders and business owners to better leverage the space and resources the county has. He said he wants to repurpose old buildings in the county’s communities to make more affordable housing units by leveraging partnerships with organizations like the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County.  

Sullivan said that the county can not solve affordable housing on its own, but needs state and federal support and funds in providing more affordable housing. Green-Douglass Echoed Sullivan adding that she remains committed to funding solutions. 

New county jail building 

County officials have floated the idea of offering a bond referendum to fund a new county jail due to deteriorating conditions.

County officials said a combination of a growing population and age, having been built in 1981, has caused the deterioration with concerns about the stability of the building remaining. 

All three incumbent supervisors at the forum said they would support a referendum to finance a new jail building and Green-Douglass encouraged those who are concerned about the wellbeing of staff and inmates to begin the education part of a referendum campaign.

Conrad, a law enforcement officer, said that he also supports a referendum because of the increase in costs if the jail were to shut down. 

Remington said that she would like to see a decrease in the jail population through diversion programs, ending cash bail, and not putting non-violent offenders in jail. However, she would also like to see what the space study commissioned by the county shows they need for the jail. 

“I support changes that protect the health and safety of inmates and of the employees [in the jail],” Remington said. “I do not support changes that would increase capacity.” 

Sullivan said he agreed with Remington on cash bail, but it is not within the county’s purview. 

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.