The candidates may have learned as much as the voters who attended the stops on Saturday’s Candidate Convoy through the farther reaches of Clarke County. Conversations ranged from confusion over the borders of the reconfigured Congressional districts to the price per acre of land in 1878 ($5.00) and 1945 ($17.50), while travelling from one to another of some of the county’s pleasant and underutilized public municipal parks facilitated observation of the evolution of land management practices and small town economies.
Some of the towns visited are losing their identity as towns. Liberty is no longer on the map, and street addresses in Liberty appear as New Virginia addresses even though New Virginia is across the border in Warren County. Woodburn has so far resisted attempts to downsize its post office out of existence, but post office hours are limited. Hopeville has been unincorporated for decades, having disincorporated to take advantage of the rural electrification program in the thirties, but it possesses a beautiful shaded park that has hosted a well-known free rural music festival every September for 38 years.
Speaking at Liberty, Rich Higdon, running against Joel Fry for 42nd district state representative, focused on the need for implementation of the water reservoir proposal, to be situated in the northwest part of the county, a project which has been in various stages of planning for sixteen years. He finds the delay unacceptable in light of the inability of the West Lake reservoir to meet the county’s needs both in terms of water quantity and quality. The project suffered a setback when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that the joint entity seeking eminent domain rights lacked the power to do so as originally composed. A revised plan is pending.
Higdon also discussed the need for economic development in the county so that the county’s young people do not need to relocate to find suitable work. He favors an increase in the minimum wage.
Sheriff candidate Rob Kovacevich talked about his eighteen years of experience as deputy and chief deputy for the Clarke County Sheriff. He pointed out that many people are not aware of the full range of responsibilities overseen by the sheriff, including administration of the county’s only jail, service of summons in civil lawsuits, property foreclosures and evictions, wage garnishments, and missing persons searches in addition to criminal law enforcement outside the city limits and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. He is the only member of the sheriff’s office staff who has training certification for jailers from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Kovacevich has put in countless hours of unpaid overtime in service to the county over the years, and feels his training, experience, and dedication to his job make him by far the best candidate.
Incumbent county auditor Janice White was the most visible presence, without whose truck, trailer, sign, and matching T-shirts the convoy might have been mistaken for some lost vehicles looking for a family reunion picnic. White explained the financial responsibilities of the auditor’s office and with regard to administering elections. People willing to serve as poll watchers or for other election-related volunteer work should contact the auditor’s office. People are still needed in some precincts.
White also explained some of the lesser-known elective offices in the county. In addition to the county supervisors, each township has an elected trustee and clerk. The trustee is responsible for cemeteries within the township and for resolving fence disputes, along with certain tax administration duties. The elections are usually uncontested and people often hold these positions for years, but when they retire and leave office, sometimes the supervisors have to seek out replacements. Information about all elective offices, candidacy, and nomination procedures and deadlines is available from the auditor’s office at the courthouse.