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Election could change makeup of county supervisors board

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | OCTOBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the Nov. 4 election nears close, three Johnson County Board of Supervisors candidates vie for two open seats with the outcome potentially creating an all-male or all-Democratic board if the status quo is altered.

The candidates include incumbent Supervisors Janelle Rettig and John Etheredge, and candidate Mike Carberry.

Rettig said the current board doesn’t let partisanship get in the way of resolving local problems in Johnson County, and she hopes the election results won’t affect that status.

“Our party labels don’t come into play when we’re talking about local issues,” Rettig said. “There’s not partisanship in problems such as roads in Johnson County, or the courthouse annex.”

She said elections reflect the changes within Johnson County, and she doesn’t think this election will be any different.

“I do think the group dynamic will change, but not depending on our partisanship,” Rettig said. “Having a Republican on Democrat majority board doesn’t affect many of our decisions.”

Etheredge — the lone Republican on the board — said the board’s lack of partisanship has been praised, and he doesn’t think it will change in that aspect, even if it ends up being all Democrat.

“Supervisors need to have the willingness to work with anyone,” he said. “I don’t check people at the door based on their partisanship.”

The board had been strictly Democratic for 58 years until Etheredge became a supervisor in 2013.

Carberry said the group has always worked very well to make the correct decisions in order to benefit the county, and he believes it will continue to do so.

Supervisor Chairman Terrence Neuzil said it was a feat for Etheredge to overcome the Democratic majority.

“Even with the potential of a new member entering our board, I don't foresee a drastic change in the way we run things,” Neuzil said. “There is enough weight on the board that will make the decision-making moderate.”

When it comes to an all-male board, however, Rettig said that is unacceptable.

“In a county like ours where women make up 52 percent of the population, roughly 30 percent of elected officials are women,” Rettig said. “That’s not okay with me.”

She said it’s important to have more diversity in the office, and that there needs to be a woman on the board to represent the women of Johnson County.

Etheredge said he believes voters need to look deeper when choosing who they should elect.

“[The voters] should look much deeper into a person than what’s superficial,” he said. “A person’s decision-making has a lot of do with their background, culture, and upbringing.”

He said diversity is more than just skin deep, and he doesn’t think the board would change much if it were made up of all males because each person brings something diverse and unique to the table.

Etheredge said the board is diverse in ways other than gender and race, and it includes members from both the city and rural areas of Johnson County to help decide what is best for all its residents.

Neuzil said it is a little shocking that there is a chance there could be five men on the board, especially with how progressive Johnson County is when it comes to gender balance.

“In my mind it shouldn't matter if it's a democrat or republican, or a man or woman,” he said. “Nothing happens unless we all get along, so we need a person who will work with anyone.”


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