Byrnes, Schellhammer elected to Board of Supervisors; referendum for jail/public safety center fails by less than one percentage point

A slight change in local leadership but no change - or at least not the proposed change - in local facilities is the message Allamakee County voters sent when they went to the polls for the Tuesday, November 4 General Election. With just under 53% of eligible voters in the county casting a ballot, area voters newly elected Dan Byrnes to the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday and re-elected Larry Schellhammer to the Board, but came up just shy of approving the proposed bond referendum for a new jail and public safety center.

With overall election results reflecting residents of Allamakee County voting right along with the majority of their statewide and districtwide counterparts in Tuesday's election, those Allamakee County voters could not come up with enough of a majority amongst themselves to pass the $4.9 million bond referendum on the ballot that would have put the wheels in motion for construction of a new jail and public safety center within the county.

Requiring a super majority of 60% plus one vote in order to pass, the referendum narrowly failed in its ballot debut, garnering just under 59.1% approval among Tuesday's voters. According to the initial unofficial vote totals following Tuesday's election, the referendum, labeled as "Public Measure G" on the ballot, received overall approval by a 2,777-1,923 vote margin, but those 2,777 "yes" votes were just shy of the necessary 60% super majority needed to pass the referendum, the measure needing either 44 "no" votes to, instead, be "yes" or needing 109 more "yes" votes without any further increase in the "no" votes in order to pass.

Further information and local reaction to the failed referendum vote can be found at right in the colored sidebar accompanying this article.



In the only contested Allamakee County government race on this year's ballot, one of the two seats on the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors up for election this year will have a new occupant, as Democrat Dan Byrnes was newly elected to one of those seats. Incumbent Republican Larry Schellhammer retained his seat on the Board, with fellow Republican incumbent Sherry Strub not being re-elected to the Board. Schellhammer led the final totals with 3,194 votes, with Byrnes receiving 3,017 votes and Strub finishing third with 2,306 votes.

In three uncontested races at the county level, incumbent Republican candidates Lori Hesse, Debbie O'Hare Winke and Jill Kistler garnered nearly 100% of voter support in their respective races for County Treasurer, County Recorder and County Attorney. Hesse tallied 4,449 votes (99.78%), O'Hare Winke received 4,306 votes (99.72%) and Kistler finished with 4,037 votes (98.54%).




In the only state level representative race impacting the local area, incumbent Democrat Patti Ruff retained her position in District 56 of the Iowa House of Representatives, defeating Republican challenger Lowell Engle by a 6,168-4,872 margin to net nearly 56% of the votes cast in District 56. Allamakee County voters made for a much narrower margin of just 2,707-2,504 for Ruff, giving her just under 52% of their approval.



The trend of re-electing incumbent candidates continued through all of the State of Iowa administrative races on Tuesday's ballot, with Allamakee County voters not only following that overall statewide trend but also offering even greater approval to Republican candidates in each of those races, as well as those at the federal level. A straight ticket voting margin of 955 for Republicans vs. 671 for Democrats in Allamakee County helped fuel that broader approval for Republican candidates.

Despite that higher level of Republican approval, incumbent Democrats, Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, were able to retain their state offices. Miller received 56.1% of the statewide vote to retain his seat over Republican challenger Adam Gregg, with Miller getting just 53.5% approval in Allamakee County in a 2,710-2,352 local margin. Likewise, Fitzgerald won with a statewide approval of 52.8% but was not as well supported by Allamakee County voters, edging Republican challenger Sam Clovis by a 2,518-2,302 margin in Allamakee County for just a 50.4% local approval.

State administrative incumbent Republicans, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and State Auditor Mary Mosiman, each easily retained their offices, with another higher level of support from Allamakee County voters helping to fuel those returns. Northey claimed 62.3% of the statewide vote over Democratic challenger Sherrie Taha, with local voters boosting Northey's approval to 67.2% with a 3,388-1,446 area vote margin over Taha. Mosiman's local support margin was even greater, as 62.4% of Allamakee County voters gave her their approval in comparison to 56.9% statewide, Mosiman garnering a 3,032-1,820 margin among local voters.

In what one might call a delayed re-election, Iowans returned former Secretary of State, Republican Paul Pate, to that same office he once occupied in the late 1990s. Pate received just 48.5% of the statewide vote to edge out Democrat Brad Anderson in the open race to fill the office left vacant by current Secretary of State Matt Schultz unsuccessfully seeking a U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat. Allamakee County voters against boosted the Republican candidate, giving Pate 51.5% approval with a 2,590-2,211 local margin.

The lead state government position also followed the same overall trend, as the incumbent Republican ticket of Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds retained its position in the Iowa Governor's office with 59.0% statewide voter approval over the Democratic challenge of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Allamakee County voters vaulted the Branstad/Reynolds ticket to a 64.5% approval with a local vote margin of 3,391-1,719.



Local voters also helped the state of Iowa fuel overall Republican control of Congress, as both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives District 1 seats on this year's ballot were won by their respective Republican candidates. Republican Rod Blum edged Democrat Pat Murphy in that open U.S. House District 1 battle by a 51.2%-48.7% statewide margin fueled further by Allamakee County's 56.9% voter approval of Blum with a 2,951-2,227 local margin.

Somewhat bucking that trend of significant greater local approval, however, was the race for U.S. Senate, where Democrat Bruce Braley was outdistanced by Republican Joni Ernst by a 52.2%-43.7% margin on a statewide level to become Iowa's first female U.S. Senator. Although still giving Ernst the elective nod, Allamakee County voters were just slightly more approving of her, at 52.8%, within her 2,759-2,173 local voter margin over Braley. It was not that Allamakee County voters were more supportive of Braley, as their 41.6% approval of him was even less than the statewide percentage, but Independent candidate Rick Stewart, who has early roots in Postville, managed a full percentage point more support in his native county (3.4%) than he did statewide (2.4%).



In the much ignored Judicial Retention ballot items, Allamakee County voters gave slightly higher average approval (73.5%) than the statewide average (72%) to the two Iowa Court of Appeals judges on this year's ballot, while giving slightly less average support (75% locally compared to 78% statewide) to the three Associate Judges listed. In each of those five ballot items, more than one-third of Allamakee County voters who cast ballots in Tuesday's election either failed to or decided not to cast their vote in any of those judge retention selections. The following results were reported for Allamakee County:

Court of Appeals: Thomas Bower - 2,668 Yes, 931 No; Christopher McDonald - 2,508 Yes, 913 No.

District 1A Associate Judge: Mark Hostager - 2,606 Yes, 896 No; Stephanie Rattenborg - 2,582 Yes, 855 No; Thomas Straka - 2,692 Yes, 839 No.



In other ballot items within Allamakee County, Donald Elsbernd received 3,506 votes to be elected to fill one of two open Commissioner positions for the Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation District, with no other candidate listed on the ballot and write-in candidates not being official until after the canvassing of the vote by the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors. Five other individuals were also elected to serve on the Allamakee County Agriculture Extension Council with the following vote totals: Michelle Byrnes 3,205; Kevin Fossum, 3,191; Steve Pladsen, 3,191; Katie Melcher, 3,030; and Becky Rea, 3,012.

Within the respective township elections throughout Allamakee County on this year's ballot, the following Township Clerks and Township Trustees listed on the ballot were voted in:

Center: Trustees - Dennis Nebendahl, Robert Troendle; Clerk - Michele Troendle.

Franklin: Trustee - Larry Lamborn, Brent Miller; Clerk - Diane Kraus.

French Creek: Trustee - Tom Weighner; Clerk - Bernard Welsh.

Hanover: Trustee - Mark Howe; Clerk - Robert Larkin.

Iowa: Trustee - Michael Reburn, Donald Hitchins; Clerk - Robin Herman.

Jefferson: Trustee - Greg Kerndt, Brad Winkie; Clerk - Michelle Donahue. 

Lafayette: Trustee - Mark Kruse, Jean Gavin; Clerk - Mary Delaney.

Lansing: Clerk - Nathan Aldrich.

Linton: Trustee - Daniel Cahoon; Clerk - David Cahoon.

Ludlow: Trustees - Randy Kruger, Lars Palmer; Clerk - Audrey Peterson.

Makee: Trustees - Brad Berns, Adam Bieber; Clerk - William Steffenson.

Paint Creek: Trustees - Kent McCormick, Lori Johanningmeier; Clerk - Virgil Thorstenson.

Post: Trustees - Richard Berns, William Christofferson; Clerk - Cindy Berns.

Union Prairie: Trustee - Larry Straate; Clerk - Tony Baxter.

Waterloo: Trustees - Jeffrey Tyribakken, Todd Passig; Clerk - David Schulte.