Five-term Linn County Supervisor Lu Barron will not seek re-election in 2014.
Barron, first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1996, has won five general elections and “a few primaries along the way,” she said on Tuesday.
Her final year as supervisor in 2014 will mark her 18th year in office.
“This was a difficult decision made considerably easier by the birth of our first grandchild, who lives in New Zealand,” Barron said in announcing her decision. “Spending as much time as possible with my young grandson is important to me, and I would not be comfortable asking voters to support me for a position for which I would not continue to give a 100 percent commitment.”
Barron turns 60 on Jan. 30.
In modest fashion back in 1996, Barron, a Democrat, credited Bill Clinton’s strong showing in Linn County in that year’s presidential race with helping her win her first supervisor’s race.
On Tuesday, she said the job never has stopped being rewarding.
“I’ve loved this job and love coming to work,” she said. “My focus in office has always been ‘making a difference,’ and I believe I have made a difference in people’s lives.”
Barron said her decision to not seek re-election came after much thought, but she said she concluded that not running for a sixth term does not mean she is retiring from the work world.
” … No, it’s not retirement,” she said. “I might do something else. I might get another job. I might do a business. I don’t know, when one door closes another opens.”
In the last couple of years, Linn County government has featured a notable level of discord between the elected supervisors and the elected auditor, Joel Miller. The supervisors’ disagreements with Miller have “zero” to do with her decision to leave office in 2014, Barron said.
“I really have tried and continue to try to get all with Joel,” she said. ” … But one person cannot get underneath my skin that bad.”
Facing a sixth election campaign in 2014 didn’t make leaving office look attractive either, she added.
“Running for office is really a big part of this job … and I like 100 percent of this job,” she said.
The five supervisors no longer run countywide, but each runs in a supervisor district. Barron said she liked running countywide more.
“There were 19 parades, and I had a ball going out there throwing candy … meeting people, eating a lot of chicken dinners,” she said.
She listed among her accomplishments:
“Linn County is on a strong foundation, and I am proud to have been part of the leadership that helped advance Linn County into its position of strength today,” Barron said.
Barron did face at least one challenger in the 2014 election if she had chosen to run.
Robins Mayor Ian Cullis, who did not seek re-election as mayor, said in recent months that he would move into Cedar Rapids and into Barron’s District 1 supervisor district to run in the Democratic primary in 2014.