What are the three most important issues in Johnson County, and how would you address them?
- Mental health – meeting the ever-expanding needs for mental health services in Johnson County by Increasing Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services, Expanding the Mental Health Workforce, Education, and Expanding physical space.
- Maintaining existing infrastructure: roads and bridges; we must make sure existing infrastructure is properly maintained and not neglected. Rural roads are crucial to agriculture and our outlying communities.
- Improving the county’s relationship with staff and the community by working cooperatively and respectfully with everyone. People who navigate the county system must have a clear roadmap, no surprises.
What issues would you like to see the board push for in the coming two to four years?
A change in how the county deals with taxpayers, residents and staff. We have to start treating community members and staff with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Linn County has reduced its board of supervisors from five to three, each representing a county district. Do you think Johnson County should reduce the size of the board of supervisors? Why or why not?
It is a conversation worth having and an issue that needs to be discussed with the public. Any decision on that matter should be made by the public. Definitely the board of supervisors in Johnson County needs greater rural representation and participation.
Currently, all of Johnson County's elected offices are filled with Democrats. Are constituents with more conservative views given any say in how the county is run?
Outside of a special election which occurred during a blizzard, Johnson County board of supervisors has been ruled by one party for 60 years. It is up to the voters of Johnson County to answer your question concerning “are (their) views given any say in how the county is run” and that’s why I am a candidate for this office.
How well does county government work with city governments within the county? Are there efficiencies that can be achieved with intergovernmental agreements?
As an ICCSD board member, we meet routinely with county and local city governments to discuss issues. All candidates that run talk about wanting to be more cooperative and to do more but in reality, many opportunities are missed and more can be done. We have to recognize that all municipality budgets are tight and demands for greater and newer facilities and services will constantly put pressure. This reality should push all groups to work with one another to pool resources whenever possible.
Should the county push the envelope with state matters or with multi-jurisdictional issues? When should the county work with other entities and when should the county go its own way?
The county needs to concentrate on running the county not running the state. We have enough issues facing our taxpayers and residents without working on issues which we have no control over. Nothing stops supervisors from advocating their views, but county business should be our top priority.
If you're forced to cut the county budget, where do you look for savings? Why?
We should always be looking for savings not only when we are in a tight budgetary situation. Every opportunity to run the county leaner and more efficiently should be looked at; not just when we are in a tight budget cycle.
Do you think the county should increase spending on rural road maintenance?
Yes, of course. Existing infrastructure – that’s what I stated earlier. Before you build new, make sure existing roads and bridges are maintained properly.
Would you favor the regionalization of some services? If so, which ones?
I think this is a discussion worth having where services could be provided better or more efficiently but at this present time I have no examples to share and would be interested in looking at ideas and suggestions of others.
How would you communicate with your constituents?
I believe I am the only elected official in Johnson County that holds weekly gatherings with community members; since I was elected to the ICCSD board of education, I have held community gatherings every Friday at my shop to discuss community issues. I would continue this and look to expand it when elected to the board of supervisors. Of course, we all receive emails as a form of communication and, me personally, phone calls and face to face conversations are always welcome.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PHIL
What makes you the best choice for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors?
First, it is up to the community to decide who are the best representatives for Johnson County supervisors. I am a lifelong resident, born and raised in Johnson County. I grew up on my family’s farm between Morse and Oasis and farmed for many years with my father. I spent 5 years managing Roy Carver’s cattle ranch in Belize, Central America where I met my future wife, Anita. I have also worked in Africa and in the former Soviet Union. I presently operate my auto and truck repair business which has been in continuous operation in Johnson County since 1997.
In 2015, I was elected to the Iowa City Community School Board (ICCSD). My accomplishments include getting the ICCSD to reduce chemical spraying in our school buildings and on our grounds. My board representation on the steering committee helped lead to the addition of agricultural and FFA curriculum being added to our school district for the first time ever. I have consistently advocated for a more inclusive and fiscally responsible district. Being the chairperson of the Finance committee, I’ve been tasked with going through every check and receipt issued by the district every two weeks. Since my election to the board, I have held weekly gatherings at my shop to discuss issues facing the community.
I plan to bring the same level of fiscal responsibility and common-sense leadership to the Johnson County Supervisor position. Transparency and diversity of ideas are vital to successful decision making by any group. We cannot have multimillion-dollar deals being made by five people who think alike. Let’s get back to our priorities: building roads, bridges, and strengthening our commitment to agriculture, clean water and air. We must be stewards of our land for ourselves and for future generations and advocate for the ever-expanding need for mental health services in Johnson County. We must commit to maintaining our present infrastructure before embarking on new ones. Our land use plan for the county necessitates a Supervisor who has actually worked and lived on a farm and has a blue-collar background. I believe I am that person.
What is the fiscal responsibility of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors?
I consider myself as a fiscal conservative and as I have answered in the previous question, I am a budget hawk and go over the expenses of the ICCSD every two weeks – every check, every invoice. I will bring the same level of oversight to the county board of supervisors. Number one priority of the supervisors is to be fiscally minded when creating the budget; we must be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and not take their money for granted. We are a growing community and that is a good problem to have compared to the alternative. While that grows our tax base, it also increases our need for services and infrastructure for that growing population, plus the need for maintaining existing roads and bridges. Any increases in taxes should be for legitimate need and not for a never-ending list of wants.
How will the new Iowa mental health law affect Johnson County?
I assume you’re referring to HF2456: Makes changes to address gaps in services to Iowans with complex mental health, disability, and substance use needs. This is a good start for those over 18 years of age who have mental health needs, but we need to continue to improve on providing core services for those affected. Supervisors need to be involved and be leaders in our Region in order to continue addressing and improving these core services.
Because HF2456 only pertains to those over 18 years of age, we must also address the needs of those younger than 18 years of age. SF2113 likewise is a good beginning but more needs to be done. SF2113 requires school employees who have contact with students to complete one hour of suicide awareness and prevention training each year, with a focus on identifying Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and responding to associated toxic stress responses.
Johnson County (leaders) need to keep pushing for improving our core services and not be complacent with and accept the minimum standard. All residents of Johnson County deserve better.