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Johnson County supervisor candidates hold forum

BY CHRISTIAN HAHN | SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Johnson County Board of Supervisors candidates gathered in the first of two public forums to address issues in Johnson County before the election.

Supervisors Janelle Rettig and John Etheredge, as well as candidate Mike Carberry, addressed issues ranging from taxes to the county’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle on Monday.

This is the first of the forums, which are designed to allow public access to the candidates and to hear their thoughts on a variety of issues.

There are two seats that voters will fill on Nov. 4.

“I think that we had a great response; we had a great turnout,” said Tracey Robertson, the task force liaison for the Heritage Agency on Aging.

The Heritage Agency is one of six groups in Iowa that provides many different human-service programs to the nearly 80,000 older adults living in Johnson County and six others.

The candidates addressed what they think the county should do to make things easier for residents to age.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website defines aging in place as being able to live in one’s own home safely, independently, and comfortably, no matter the age, income, or level of ability.

Carberry said he thinks Johnson County is a good place to live and wants that to be evident.

“I know a lot of people that have gone to Johnson County to retire,” he said. “One of the reasons they’ve done that is health care, the amenities that we have, the recreation, [and] the entertainment.”

Etheredge said he supports efforts provided by the Heritage Agency for residents.

“This is one of those non-mandated services and this is a huge commitment to helping people age in place and not to be institutionalized,” he said. “We give hundreds of thousands of dollars toward this, and we’re not mandated to do such.”

Etheredge said one main concern he has is how to help people age in place as well as maintain their budget, as he wants to help people stay in the county and maintain the county’s desirability.

Rettig said she is confident that Johnson County can solve the issue.

“It’s not the property tax, it’s the land [value] that is making everything unaffordable, and we have to have affordable housing that is accessible,” she said.

Rettig said the county is pushing affordable housing in certain areas but that the solution is not accessible as of now.

“[Johnson County] is a really cool place to live and thus we have to adapt as a government to assist them and allow them to be in their own home, which is more affordable,” she said.

The candidates will use these two scheduled forums to inform the public of their intentions should they be elected to the board.

“I believe that Johnson County is the greatest place to live in the Midwest,” Carberry said. “There are a lot of issues that we’re going to need to deal with now and into the future.”

Etheredge said the supervisors are working to make the county the best place to live in Iowa, and as it is the second fastest growing county in the state, they want to grow in a way that is sustainable.

Rettig said that in finishing up almost five years as a supervisor, although she is ultimately “a liberal-arts person,” she’s found she has mostly focused on things such as financial policies and planning documents.

“There’s literally nothing that doesn’t interest me,” she said. “I’m not done working. I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish.”


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