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Several candidates file for county seats

Several candidates have filed papers for Clarke County seats for the upcoming primary election, which is June 5.

There are three candidates vying for county auditor, four candidates seeking the District 2 supervisor seat and seven people seeking the District 3 seat.

Both supervisor seats are four-year terms. Incumbent Sheriff Bill Kerns is running unopposed. Kerns was appointed in 2006 to replace former Sheriff Mark Addison, who was retiring.
Kerns has been in law enforcement for 27 years.

I feel that since I have become sheriff, this office has provided quality law enforcement under my direction,” said Kerns. “I feel the citizens of Clarke County deserve the best that I can offer.”

Kerns said he feels he has made sound decisions when it comes to spending taxpayers’ dollars each year and has saved the county and taxpayers money.

Candidate introductions

District 2 Supervisor Jack Cooley is running for re-election. Cooley, D-Osceola, has served 12 years. Republicans Joe Johnston, Richard McKnight and Laurence Keller are also vying for the seat.

• Johnston retired after working for Polk County Sheriff’s Department 33 years where he served as the chief of field operations. Johnston said when budgets needed to be cut, he had to cut his department’s budget, as well.

He said he’s running because he’s concerned about the tax base.
“I truly believe we can consolidate some services too,” he said.
Johnston said he’s also concerned about the future of the county’s solid waste. He served on a landfill commission study group before the landfill closed. Johnston said he wants to see the city and county working together on issues like solid waste.

• McKnight of Osceola is a retired military officer and retired county engineer. McKnight said he chose to run because he wants to be more involved in the county.
“I want to help shape the future of the county, especially with respect to water sources, landfill activities, or lack thereof, and moral decisions. Like who said we wanted to spend state or county funds giving away free condoms in the courthouse restrooms,” he said.

• Keller is retired after working at Clarke Electric for 38 years. He currently raises a small herd of cattle and drives for Southern Iowa Trolley.
Keller said he had a number of people ask him to run. Now that he’s semi-retired he has more time to commit and wants to help protect taxpayer dollars.
“I think you really need to be diligent on how you spend the taxpayers’ money and be accountable for it,” he said.

District 3 seat

Karon Keefe-Dunbar, D-Osceola, is retired from MidAmerican Energy and is now a customer service supervisor at Walmart. Dunbar is seeking the District 3 seat, currently held by Don Reasoner, who is not running for re-election. Craig Stephenson, Dan Hooper, Ray Negley, Bernard Schade, Fred Diehl and Marvin McCann have also filed papers for the seat.

• Dunbar moved to the community about 9 1/2 years ago and is ready to be more involved in local government, she said.
“I feel Clarke County is ready for a change, for new leadership, and I know I can provide it,” she said of her decision to run.

• Democrat Stephenson of Osceola is semi-retired and is currently self-employed. Stephenson said he believes everyone should be involved in their community.
“Now that I am retired, I can do that,” he said. “I have no specific agenda. But we but we need to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars.”

• Democrat McCann of Osceola is a retired teacher. McCann said he’d like to “put new perspective and a new thought process on the board.”
“I want to collaborate with local governmental entities and related boards, but still maintain the county’s fiscal responsibility,” he said of his decision to run.

• Republican Negley has retired as a sales representative from Metz/Sara Lee baking. Negley is chairman of Clarke County Republicans.
“I just decided, as I retired, maybe I could contribute more to the community,” he said.

• Republican Schade works in sales and consulting at Mac-Lander trailers by Mid-States. Schade is also concerned about tax dollars.

“With the many demands on our money (high gas prices, higher food prices, higher utility and water) means we must control taxes and make every tax dollar count for the people,” he said. “And this is a chance to develop better communications and cooperation between the city, county and local boards.”

• Republican Hooper is a Navy veteran and worked at the Caterpillar dealer and worked as a mechanic.and supervisor
Hooper said he believes he would make a good candidate because he “looks at both sides of things, has high ethics and a conservative outlook.”

• Osceola Mayor Fred Diehl has been mayor for 14 years. He said the city’s projects he’s been committed to have been completed or are nearing completion. His next mission is to see the city and county work together more.
“With a little bit of sitting down and talking across the table,” he said. “That’s all it takes.”


Auditor Judy Church is retiring after 12 years and has been in the auditor’s office for 24 years.

• First Deputy Auditor Janice White, D-Osceola, is running for the seat. White has served as deputy auditor for 12 years, and has been first deputy for 8 years.
White said she is quite familiar with the auditor’s duties and enjoys the job.
“I fill in for Judy when she’s gone,” she said. “There’s just a lot of government regulations we have to follow. It’s very detailed and complicated office.”
Republicans Howard Ruter and Joyce Neal are vying for the seat as well.

• Ruter of Osceola is currently a loan serving specialist with Wells Fargo home mortgage. Ruter said he wanted to become more engaged in the Osceola community.
“I thought this would be a wonderful way to do that,” he said.
Ruter said his experience and education would help him in the position. He has worked for Principal Financial Group for seven years, ING for three years and Wells Fargo for five years. He has bachelor of science in business administration and minor in marketing.

• Joyce Neal of Osceola has worked for Clarke Electric for 22 years and is currently the accounting and billing clerk. Prior to coming to Clarke Electric she worked for the state of Iowa’s insurance division in the Iowa Securities Bureau. Neal said she feels her experience working for the state and in private business has given her experience that could be beneficial to her role in serving Clarke County. Neal said she decided it was a good time for her to run.

“I did a lot of thinking and talking and got a lot of advice from people about campaigning,” she said. “I began to realize this would be a good time to run with it being an open seat.”

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