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Clearing The Air

By Staff | Mar 13, 2012

Despite a petition drive to reduce the number of supervisors, voters in Palo Alto County will cast ballots for three supervisor seats on the five-member board in the June Primary election. The Primary will also feature a contested race between two sitting Supervisors, due to the redistricting conducted at the end of 2011.

According to Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser, the first date to take out nomination papers for the Primary election was this past Monday, March 5. As of that date, incumbent Supervisor Ed Noonan, who currently represents District Five, and incumbent Supervisor Leo Goeders, who represents District Three, have taken out papers to run for the District Three seat, as both men live in the newly redefined boundaries of District Three.

Incumbent Supervisor Ron Graettinger will be running for the re-defined District Four seat, while the revamped District Five currently has no candidate. Nomination papers for the June 5th Primary must be filed with the County Auditor’s office by the close of business on Wednesday, March 28.

Since the start of the petition drive last year proposing a reduction in the number of County Supervisors, voters may have been confused in terms of the Primary election.

The petition drive must obtain 392 signatures in order to place the question of reducing the number of supervisors on the board before the voters during the 2012 General Election.

The petition drive is based on Iowa Code Chapter 331.204, which details the procedure for a reduction in size of the Board of Supervisors.

“…the board may, by resolution, or shall upon petition of the number of eligible electors of the county as specified in Section 331.306, submit to the registered voters of the county at a general election a proposition to reduce the number of supervisors to three. If a majority of the votes cast on the proposition is in favor of the reduction to three members, the membership of the board shall remain at five until the first day in January which is not a Sunday or holiday following the next general election, at which time the terms of the five members shall expire.”

The code goes on to specify “at the next general election following the one at which the proposition to reduce the membership of the board to three is approved, the membership of the board shall be elected according to the supervisor representation plan in effect in the county.”

Using the Code guidelines, if enough signatures were obtained through the petition drive, the question to reduce the number of supervisors from five to three would appear on the November 2012 General Election ballot. If the reduction question receives a simple majority of the vote 51 percent approval of votes cast the board would downsize to three members starting in 2015.

Then, in the November 2014 General Election, three supervisors would be elected to take seats on the revamped board on Jan. 1, 2015.

But, if the board is reduced to three members, a new re-districting would be required by law in order to ensure equal representation of the county’s population among the supervisors.