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Carberry seeks to unseat incumbent

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | OCTOBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Mike Carberry was thrust into the world of environmentalism after working on Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.

Since then, Carberry, a candidate for Johnson County Board of Supervisors, has served in leadership roles for the Iowa City Sierra Club, the Iowa Renewable Energy Association, the Iowa Wind Energy Association, the Johnson County Democrats, and others.

Carberry moved to Iowa City from Newhall, Iowa, in rural Benton County in 1976 when his father decided to shift from an unsustainable career as a large-animal vet to buy a collectible shop and better support his wife and nine children.

“I learned a lot from him and from the farmers about conservation and about sustainability and the importance of family farms,” Carberry said.

In particular, he has advocated revising the county’s land-use plan to restrict residential development in more rural regions.

“What I don’t want to see in Johnson County is just paving over the farms and paving over the natural areas to build housing,” he said.

Instead, he said, “we can go up” and fill in underutilized or vacant areas in municipalities.

“I’d like to see that more developed and put up $500,000 condos in those high-rises versus $500,000 on an acreage in rural Johnson County that should’ve been used for farmland,” he said.

He has also said he would like to update county policies to encourage produce farming expansion.

“I think that shows he’s able to work with a number of constituencies and still have a cohesive message to put forward,” said Tom Carsner, local environmental activist, who has worked closely with Carberry.

Most visibly, Carberry is the director of Green State Solutions, his environmental advocacy group, and has he lobbied in the Iowa Legislature for years for environmental causes.

“I’ve learned a lot about politics, and I’ve learned a lot about how the system works,” he said.

Carberry is running against incumbents Janelle Rettig and John Etheredge. Should he be elected, he would be the only new member on the board.

He originally ran in 2013 for state Rep. Sally Stutsman’s vacant supervisor seat but lost the Democratic nomination to Terry Dahms in a special election. Etheredge now holds that seat.

Carberry said he would like to improve civility on the board, and would initially “sit back a little bit and watch” while still pushing for his own issues and trying to “get the supervisors to work together.”

“A good deal a lot of times for the people is when everybody at the table walked away just a little PO’d because they didn’t get what they wanted,” Carberry said. “Well, if I didn’t get what I wanted, and the other supervisors didn’t get everything that they wanted, well, maybe the people did.”

Carberry also supports expansion of the county courthouse and has said tax-increment financing in the country needs reform.

“I respect anybody who has run for office, because it’s not an easy thing to do,” he said.

Naturally, Carberry’s father joins Carsner in support.

“Most people do a lot of talking and no action, and that’s the American way,” Doc Carberry said. “He’s done things. He’s attended more events than anybody in Iowa or any three people in Iowa put together … he’s running himself ragged coming and going.”


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