Political newcomer joins Johnson County supervisor race

Diane Dunlap has worked for 11 years in the Johnson County Recorder’s Office

Gregg Hennigan
Published: April 2 2014 | 5:00 pm - Updated: 7 April 2014 | 3:06 pm in

A political newcomer is making a bid for Johnson County supervisor.

Diane Dunlap, of 15 Lakeview Dr. NE in Iowa City, was a surprise entry in the Board of Supervisors race. The Democrat has never run for political office before.

“I just think there needs to be somebody in there who has a different view or open ears to things,” said Dunlap, 57. “I don’t have personal or political agendas, so I want to go in there basically with my eyes open and listen to the residents of Johnson County.”

Two seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for election. Democrats and Republicans will vote for candidates in the primary election to represent their parties in the November general election.

The Democrats are current Supervisor Janelle Rettig and challengers Lisa Green-Douglass, Mike Carberry and Dunlap.

Incumbent Supervisor John Etheredge is the only Republican running.

Dunlap may lack political experience, but she is familiar with county government. She’s worked for 11 years in the Johnson County Recorder’s Office and is a clerk dealing with vital records, real estate transactions and registration of recreational vehicles.

Something she'd want the county to explore if she's elected is cross-training employees to save money. As an example, someone with her job could help in the Treasurer's Office, which has some comparable duties, she said.

The biggest debate in the county in recent years has been what to do about space and safety concerns at the jail and courthouse.

Two bond referendums to fund a justice center with jail and court space have failed, first in November 2012 and then in May 2013.

Dunlap said the supervisors brought the issue back to voters too quickly last year and without making enough changes.

She believes the jail and courthouse need upgrades but the $46 million project considered last spring was too expensive. She’d want the county to explore expanding the existing jail, although officials say the building cannot support a large addition. An annex across the street has been considered, but the Board of Supervisors may discard that idea.

Dunlap criticized the 3 percent raises the supervisors gave county elected officials, plus a bonus for the sheriff, compared with raises of 2 percent to 2.25 percent the county’s bargaining unit employees will get July 1.

Rettig opposed the raises for elected officials.

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