Jasper County voters driving down First Avenue East in Newton in the last two weeks might think they’re having a small case of déjà vu.
The blue and yellow signs reading “Jerry Chandler, County Supervisor” that disappeared after the Newton small business owner’s defeat in the June Democratic Party primary, have suddenly popped back up in the beds of other campaign paraphernalia.
Chandler, who lost the four-way race in June for one of the two Democratic Party nominations for Jasper County Board of Supervisors, has re-entered the race as an independent.
According to the Jasper County Auditor’s office, Chandler did submit the required number of signatures to be on the November ballot.
“We need change. Jasper County needs change and it’s not going to happen from within,” Chandler said in an interview Monday. “When I worked for the county, I watched a lot of wasteful spending. A lot of things were done that should not have been and a lot of things that needed to be done weren’t.”
Chandler is critical of the investment in grant and taxpayer funds the board of supervisors has made restoring the courthouse’s historic clock tower, only to see the timepiece still not operational.
Chandler also feels completing a recent interior remodel of the Jasper County Building at 115 W. Second St. S., to turn around and sell the property to a local real estate investment firm is not the right use of taxpayer dollars.
Chandler came in at the bottom of the Democratic pack in the June primary, receiving 12.7 percent of the vote in a four-person field. He was defeated by sitting Newton Mayor Mike Hansen and assistant Jasper County engineer Pam Olson, who received 31.31 percent and 29.52 percent of the vote respectively and who both will be on the ballot in November.
Chandler will also face Republicans Brandon Talsma and incumbent supervisor Denny Carpenter.
A small plumbing and heating business owner, former Jasper County employee and Newton native, Chandler may be a registered Democrat but he doesn’t see his independent status as a change to his ideology. His affiliation the Democratic Party, Chandler said, happened in a split second decision three decades ago.
“In 1982, there was not a lot available on the difference between Democrat and Republican. When I was in high school, I got extra credit for registering to vote,” Chandler said. “Back then it seemed like the Republicans were rich, and I definitely was not rich.”
So, Chandler registered as a Democrat and remained through the 2018 primaries. Chandler’s son recently reminded his father his party alignment is situational depending on the issue under debate, the independent candidate said. That helped his decision to re-enter the race.
The top-two candidates after the votes are tallied Nov. 6 will take a seat on the board of supervisors, and Chandler isn’t shying away from his pick to get that second spot — Jasper County farmer and Republican Brandon Talsma.
Hansen declined to comment about how Chandler’s independent run is perceived by the other candidates or could affect the final vote Nov.6, but Chandler said his independent run is also not a strategy to pull votes away from Democrats to help Talsma. The Newton business owner said, “he’s in it to win it.”
“Whoever is going to do the best job should be put in charge,” Chandler said. “We’re all on the same team, fighting for the same cause. Everyone wants to play Democrat or Republican, but that doesn’t work anymore,” Chandler said.
Jasper County and Iowa voters head to the polls on Nov. 6.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or firstname.lastname@example.org