December 07, 2023

Letter to the Editor: The votes of the people really does matter

How many times in the last few years have you heard someone bemoan the fact that Republicans and Democrats in office just can’t agree on anything? Well, lo and behold ... miracle of miracles, that wish has been granted right here in little ol’ Jasper County!

Recently, the two current Republican County Supervisors and the current Democrat County Treasurer and the Democrat County Recorder all unanimously agreed that they are so much smarter and more important than the citizens they work for. They decided to appoint two open county positions instead of calling for a vote of the people to fill these positions.

The Treasurer, Recorder and (former) Auditor (also a Democrat) all voted to appoint Denny Stevenson to the Board of Supervisors. Not to be outdone in the process of knowing more than the voters, the Supervisors appointed Jenna Jennings as the County Auditor.

Let me just say what these two groups did is perfectly legal under Iowa code, that is not my problem with the appointments. I’m also not saying those two appointed individuals won’t do a good job. However, I think that it shows a lack of respect and faith in the voters of our county. Either of these two groups could have chosen to call for an election to fill these two open positions. In fact, if the supervisors had chosen to have an election for the Auditor position, the open Supervisor position would have automatically been included on the same ballot at the same special election.

Conversely, the citizens could have called for a special election of either or both of these positions if they had rounded up 1502 signatures of eligible electors from across the county on a petition and turned it in within 14 days of the respective appointment. However, when that was even discussed by citizens, some of the elected officials who made the appointments, worked behind the scenes to try to dissuade anyone from rounding up said signatures.

As someone who has been lucky enough to have been an elected official for 20 years of my life, I understand that it’s the people who are in charge. It’s the people who should make important decisions like deciding who serves in public office whenever possible. Those positions should be elected not appointed.

I know that one of the big arguments by these elected officials is that a special election could cost upwards of $25,000. It seems to me that these four current elected officials all know the cost of an election but have forgotten the worth of democracy in action.

I realize that I am only one of the approximately 23,000 registered voters in Jasper County, but I can assure you that none of these four individuals need to worry about receiving my vote in any of their future elections (2024 and 2026). I hope that others will join me in this stance. Maybe, if enough people don’t vote for them in the future, they will see that the votes of the people really do matter.

Brian D. Briles