September 22, 2023

Supervisors plan to fill county auditor vacancy by appointment

Local voters can petition for special election, need about 1,600 signatures

All three supervisors feel the best way to fill the county auditor vacancy at the end of the year is by appointing someone rather than holding a special election.

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 15 voted 3-0 to fill the vacancy by appointment. The board did not determine who would be appointed to the role currently occupied by Dennis Parrott, who announced in early October that he would be retiring from his office on Dec. 31. Parrott’s term expires in 2024.

When brought up as a discussion item at the board meeting, Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma made it clear he would rather appoint someone to be the next auditor rather than hold a special election. The term has about two years left, he said, and it doesn’t justify spending more than $25,000 on an election.

According to Iowa Code, election expenses include but are not limited to: the printing of the ballots and election register, publication of notices, printing of declaration of eligibility affidavits, compensation for precinct election boards, canvass materials and the preparation and installation of voting equipment.

Appointing an individual as the county auditor must be done within 40 days after the vacancy occurs, which would be approximately mid-February.

“The other thing is, too, is whoever gets appointed to that position really only has a year before the next election cycle starts again,” Talsma said.

Jasper County Supervisor Doug Cupples thought about both options but ultimately leaned toward appointment. If the board of supervisors go this route and the citizens disagree with their decision, Cupples said they have the opportunity to challenge it by a petition and call for a special election.

Iowa Code allows voters to file a petition requesting a special election within the first 14 days an appointment is made. Petitions will be considered valid if they are signed by eligible voters in Jasper County equal in number to at least 10 percent of the votes cast in this past general election.

Which means a successful petition will require roughly 1,500-1,600 signatures. Voters need to include a signature, their address and the date on the petitions.

With supervisors deciding an appointment as the best option, the board must eventually publish a notice stating its intent to fill the vacancy.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.