# Linn County



Linn County supervisors approve conversion therapy ban

The Linn County Board of Supervisors voted on June 13 to “prohibit any efforts by service providers to change sexual orientation and/or gender identity of minors, including conversion and reparative therapy,” in unincorporated areas of the county.

“Conversion therapy” refers to efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and has been widely discredited as ineffective and traumatizing for youth. Associations representing medical professionals, counselors, and therapists have denounced the practice for many years.

Supervisor Stacey Walker led efforts to pass the ordinance, and Supervisor Ben Rogers (also a Democrat) provided the second vote in favor. When the board considered the third and final reading, Walker said the policy “will save lives” and described it as “a moral imperative for all policymakers who take seriously their job of protecting the health and welfare of the people.”

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Our new year of progress

On Wednesday, January 2 2019, Linn County Supervisor-elect Stacey Walker was sworn into office and voted chair of the new three-member board. Walker is the first African American to hold the position and serve as chairperson of the governing body of Iowa’s second most populous county. After he was sworn in, he shared the following remarks. -promoted by Laura Belin

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Eliminating Two Supervisors A Mistake

Much has been made about the number of elected supervisors on Linn County’s Board, with some arguing for a reduction from five members to three. While the current board has wisely put this question on November’s ballot, there are still some who are undecided about the best way forward. While I have taken a position on this issue, it is my ultimate hope that voters will take from my explanation a clearer picture of the consequences of reducing elected representation on the board.

If we reduce the Board from five members to three, rural communities will lose elected representation, good governance will be compromised, and cost-savings will be minimal. In fact, costs could rise over time if the pared-down Board hires staff to make up for the shortage.

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We have a candidate in House district 37

2008 was a good election for Iowa Democrats, but we still lost several very close statehouse races. In House district 37 (map here), Republican Renee Schulte defeated first-term incumbent Art Staed by 13 votes (0.07 percent).

This week Cedar Rapids attorney Mark Seidl announced his plans to run in this district and laid out his priorities:

“Although no one would have wished for any of them, the natural, fiscal, and economic disasters that have struck us in recent years present unique opportunities for rethinking each level of our government,” Seidl said.  “In going forward, we must concentrate on reconstituting and enhancing our advantages-recreating two cities which are an essential part of Iowa’s character, conserving our tremendous natural resources in agriculture and renewable energy production, and preparing the next generation of Iowans to be leaders and innovators in the future.”

This district is winnable in light of Schulte’s tiny margin of victory and a slight Democratic voter registration advantage. Nevertheless, Seidl will need to pound the pavement to win back this seat. Schulte is a hard worker who was out door-knocking last Friday, 11 months before the election when the temperature was in the 20s. Also, Schulte may benefit from an “enthusiasm gap” if Democratic voters are demoralized and Republicans energized next November.

Schulte bucked the majority of her party by voting for a bill that allowed authorities to impose a local option sales tax in disaster areas. Linn County voters approved the 1-cent tax in March, and the proposal received a majority of votes in Cedar Rapids as a whole. I don’t know whether it carried the Cedar Rapids precincts that are in House district 37.

Like other House Republicans, Schulte voted against the I-JOBS state bonding initiative, which allocated $45 million to Linn County for disaster relief (here is how that money was allocated).

I suspect that in this district, much will depend on how voters perceive the effectiveness of the state’s response to the 2008 floods.

UPDATE: Schulte is already organizing volunteers to help with voter contacts. We will need all hands on deck in this district.

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How would Iowa Republicans fund these projects?

The I-JOBS Board met in Cedar Rapids today and awarded money for the first time, approving eight flood recovery projects worth $45.5 million. All of the projects are in Linn County except for $500,000 awarded to help the city of Elkader build a new fire station. More details are in this press release from the governor's office, which I have posted after the jump.

Attacking the I-JOBS bonding program has become a staple of Iowa Republicans' speeches and newsletters (see also here and here). I would like Republicans to explain how they would pay for flood recovery projects like the ones approved today. Or would they prefer "small government" that doesn't repair public libraries or build new county offices and fire stations?

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