Rettig wins board seat in runaway


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Janelle Rettig’s seat on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors was vindicated Tuesday evening with a decisive victory over two opponents.

Democrat Rettig garnered 58 percent of the votes in the county. Republican Lori Cardella trailed with 39 percent, and independent Jim Knapp nabbed the fewest ballots with just 3 percent of the nearly 10,000 votes cast.

The 44-year-old Iowa City resident said she’s looking forward to finding ways to facilitate Johnson County’s growth. Of 99 counties in the state, Johnson County is one of only seven increasing in population.

“I think we should have better strategic planning so we are expanding gradually into our needs, and I think that will help stabilize our budget,” she said.

Rettig said county departments operate too disparately. As a solution, she’ll work to implement collective buying and shared employees among county departments. For example, to save money, instead of hiring two employees, some personnel could work 20 hours each week at one county office and 20 hours each week at another.

“We’ve centralized information technologies, for instance, and we need to continue to go down that route,” she said. “We’re no longer a small county.”

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Rettig and other local Democrats celebrated the victory Tuesday night at Bob’s Your Uncle, 2208 N. Dodge St.

Supporters said accessibility has characterized the rookie representative’s time on the board so far.

“Janelle Rettig is one the kindest people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” former UI student Luke Oglesbee said.

“You could be a perfect stranger, and she’d come up and give you a big ol’ bear hug or let you cry on your shoulder if you want,” he said.

Tuesday’s election was the consummation of a protracted route to the Board of Supervisors for Rettig. In 2008, Rettig made plans to pursue a spot on the board by running in this summer’s Democratic primary. However, then-Supervisor Larry Meyers’ death in October left a vacancy on the board. A county statutory committee choose Rettig from a field of more than a dozen to fill Meyers’ seat.

However, Cardella and other local conservatives challenged the appointment. The group collected enough signatures — largely from passersby on the Pentacrest — to petition the county to hold Tuesday’s special election.

“It is all about maintaining our right to vote,” Cardella told The Daily Iowan in November 2009. “That was the very core of the drive for me.”

Cardella declined to comment on Tuesday night’s election results.

Rettig’s term on the board will run until Dec. 31, Supervisor Chairwoman Sally Stutsman said. Of the five supervisors, Rettig and Stutsman are up for re-election in November. However, the Democratic primary in June is the de facto election — Republicans usually fare poorly in November’s general election.

Despite Tuesday’s victory, Rettig isn’t taking much of a break. In addition to continuing her service to the county, she’s collecting signatures to get her name on the ballot for the June Democratic primary.

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