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Given the result, was it still wise to hold a special election?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | JANUARY 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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YES

Republican Lori Cardella did not win Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors special election, but democracy prevailed.

Putting my differences with Cardella aside, her signature drive for a special election allowed citizens the right to vote for a position that affects this county so dramatically. Citizens rarely get the chance to rally around such a worthy cause as the right to vote. Forces great and small are often at work to disengage our body politic from its civic duty.

The beauty was in Cardella’s attempt to change our political landscape, one so overwhelmingly on the side of Democrats. Iowa City residents — me included — have been outspoken about the nature of Cardella’s entrance into this race. Inconsistencies are still evident, but her support for democracy in this county is something to relish and replicate.

Last October, county statutory committee members chose to appoint Rettig to the seat, wishing to prevent Johnson County taxpayers from paying the $75,000 election price tag. The committee members followed proper procedure in appointing Rettig; however, their greatest concern should not have been the cost to taxpayers but the efficacy of our county’s democratic process.

In examining the scope of this entire ordeal, it’s surprising that the Johnson County Democrats did not push for a special election as well. Their majority in voter participation would have given them the same electoral result.

Cardella chose to try to make this election a reality, and, regardless of party affiliation, people need to understand that she not only did this for her constituents, she did it for everyone.

— by Michael Davis

NO

After Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor special election, a several-month quest to fill the vacant seat has come to a screeching endpoint.

However, the election was never needed, and it has ultimately led to more problems than positives.

After former Supervisor Larry Meyers died last fall, many seemed content with the appointment of Janelle Rettig, an Iowa City Democrat. But not Lori Cardella, the eventual Republican candidate.

Cardella, a Solon resident, organized a controversial petition effort that ultimately led to Tuesday’s special election — which cost an estimated $75,000, according to Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett.

But the argument now isn’t about which of the three candidates — independent candidate Jim Knapp was a late entry in the race — is best suited for the job. Instead, citizens should focus their attention on the election itself. Someone like Cardella, who preaches “fiscal prudence,” should recognize such woeful times call for trimming budgetary fat. And $75,000 of wanton spending can’t be equated with fiscal efficiency.

Besides lacking frugality, the special election also brought out the worst in those hoping to fill the vacant supervisor position. Who cares whether Cardella’s car has Florida license plates or that she and her friends dressed up as school girls to mock President Obama? And is it such a devastating revelation that the moderator at a candidate forum is a Rettig supporter?

The campaign may have been categorized more suitably as a battleground. Smear tactics, cutthroat politics, and personal diatribes dominated the landscape.

Johnson County would have been fine with Rettig at the helm. Not because of her political outlook, platform, or plans, but because her appointment could have saved the county money and spared us all from suffering through months of political bickering and sophomoric squabbling.

— by Michael Dale-Stein


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