Allamakee County voters approve hospital ownership conversion from City to County, follow most trends in other November 8 General Election ballot items

Nearly 60% of registered voters in Allamakee County cast a ballot in the November 8 General Election, resulting in 5,849 votes being recorded by Allamakee County residents. Although that local turn-out was part of this year’s statewide trend of being one of the largest voter participations in recent history for a mid-term election (at slightly less than 55% statewide), area voters also had added incentive with the inclusion of the much more local decision of determining the ownership fate of their local hospital.

Public Measure AN on all of the November 8 Allamakee County ballots asked voters to approve conversion of the ownership of Veterans Memorial Hospital from the City of Waukon to Allamakee County in an effort to allow for additional resources to help ensure the sustainability of the hospital. Those resources would include a levy on Allamakee County taxable property valuation that would result in a $1.09413 mill rate per $1,000 of net taxable property value, producing an annual allocation of $950,000 to help fund the sustainability and future growth of Veterans Memorial Hospital.

The vote required a simple majority approval of 50%-plus one, and certainly received all of that and then some, as nearly 72% of the votes cast were in favor of the conversion (4,031 “yes” votes in comparison to 1,592 “no” votes). That overall county approval was only part of the equation, however, as a simple majority of City of Waukon voters also had to approve the City of Waukon relinquishing ownership of the facility, which they did in even more convincing fashion with 86.6% approval (1,359 “yes” votes vs. 210 “no” votes).

There were four races on this year’s ballot for government offices at the County level, although none of them actually ended up being contested races. In their unopposed ballot listings, incumbent Republicans Jennifer O’Neill (99.64%, 5,252 votes) and Anthony Gericke (98.75%, 4,975 votes) were each returned to their respective offices of Allamakee County Treasurer and Attorney, and Republican Karen Mathis (99.52%, 5,214 votes) was elected to the office of Allamakee County Recorder, replacing retiring County Recorder Deb Winke.

Although there were two candidates listed on the ballot for Allamakee County Board of Supervisors, there were also two seats on the board up for election, resulting in another non-contested local race. Incumbent Democrat Dan Byrnes (41.95%, 2,982 votes) was returned to his seat on the board, and Republican Dennis Keatley (57.50%, 4,087 votes) was also elected to the board, filling the seat currently occupied by Larry Schellhammer, who was initially on this year’s Primary Ballot in June but since withdrew his name from the race, ending his multi-term tenure on the board.

In addition to the local results following the statewide trend of high voter turn-out, Allamakee County voters also pretty much fell in line with the overall trend of electing Republican candidates to State and Federal government offices. In fact, in nearly every State and Federal office on this year’s ballot, Allamakee County voters proved to be even more in favor of Republican candidates than voters from across the state, many times by double-digit percentage points over their statewide approval.

One might expect that in a county where of the 9,855 registered voters in Allamakee County for this year’s General Election, 4,472 (45.4%) of those voters registered as Republicans. Of the remaining voters, only 2,218 (22.5%) are registered as Democrats, and 3,165 (32.1%) are registered as either “No Party” (3,110) or “Other” (55), according to figures reported on the Allamakee County election website,

Starting at the Federal level of government, Allamakee County voters favored Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley by more than 10 percentage points (66.30%, 3,806 local votes) in comparison to his statewide approval (56.03%) that returned him to the office of U.S. Senator. His challenger, Democrat Michael Franken, received a corresponding 10 percentage points less from Allamakee County voters (33.67%, 1,933 local votes) than he received statewide (43.82%).

Even more so in the race for U.S. Representative District 2, Allamakee County voters were much more in favor of returning Republican incumbent Ashley Hinson (66.39%, 3,820 votes) to office than what she received statewide (54.08%). Democrat challenger Liz Mathis, accordingly, received 12 percentage points less in support from Allamakee County voters (33.56%, 1,931 votes) than she garnered statewide (45.83%).

That trend of double-digit (or nearly so) percentage points more in favor of Republican candidates by Allamakee County voters than the support those candidates received statewide continued throughout the State level of government as well. The Republican incumbent ticket of Governor Kim Reynolds/Lt. Governor Adam Gregg received 70.78% (4,100 votes) of the local vote in comparison to their statewide support of 58.06%, with the reverse happening for the Democrat challenging duo of Deidre DeJear/Eric Van Lancker, who received 27.24% (1,578 votes) of the local vote in comparison to their 39.51% statewide support. The Libertarian Party duo of Rick Stewart/Marco Battaglia fared fairly evenly among Allamakee County voters (1.99%, 115 votes) in comparison to their statewide support of 2.37%.

In the Iowa Secretary of State race, Republican incumbent Paul Pate’s 69.78% local approval (3,983 votes) was nearly double digits higher than his 60.07% statewide approval, which left Democrat challenger Joel Miller and his 39.88% statewide approval behind, including even more so in Allamakee County with his 30.20% support (1,724 votes). Likewise with the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture race, Republican incumbent Mike Naig received more support in Allamakee County (72.49%, 4,102 votes) than he did statewide (61.14%), which re-elected him to office over Democrat challenger John Norwood, whose 38.79% statewide approval was a fair amount better than what he received from Allamakee County voters (27.48%, 1,555 votes).

The double-digit increase in percentage points of support from state to local voting results helped a pair of Republican challengers unseat long-time Democrat incumbents in another pair of State government offices. Brenna Bird’s 60.09% approval (3,422 votes) among Allamakee voters helped fuel her narrow edge of support statewide (50.83%) that resulted in her ending the four-decade hold Democrat Tom Miller held on the office of Iowa Attorney General, with Miller receiving 49.10% of the statewide vote and much less (39.81%, 2,267 votes) from Allamakee County voters.

Likewise, Democrat incumbent Michael Fitzgerald also had his multi-term seat in the office of State of Iowa Treasurer come to an end, as his 48.67% approval statewide was edged by Republican challenger Roby Smith’s 51.27% statewide support. Allamakee County voters helped feed that fire with 61.66% (3,487 votes) in favor of Smith over Fitzgerald’s 38.27% (2,164 votes).

Even in the other non-candidate ballot item in this year’s General Election, Allamakee County voters proved to be even more in favor (again, double-digit percentage-wise) than statewide voters in approving the State of Iowa Constitutional Amendment asking to make the right to keep and bear arms a fundamental individual right in the state of Iowa. The amendment passed with a statewide support level of 65.18% (747,913 “yes” votes vs. 399,470 “no” votes), with Allamakee County voter approval zooming even higher to 78.92% (4,357 “yes” votes vs. 1,164 “no” votes).

Although not by double-digit percentage points more, Allamakee County voters still helped return Republican incumbent Anne Osmundson to her seat in District 64 of the Iowa House of Representatives, which encompasses all of both Allamakee and Clayton Counties and dips a bit into northern Dubuque County. With nearly the same level of local support (68.51%, 3,906 votes) as she received districtwide (68.84%, 9,176 votes), Osmundson fended off Democrat challenger Brian Bruening, who also received nearly the same amount of support in Allamakee County (31.42%, 1,791 votes) as he did throughout the district (31.12%, 4,148 votes).

In the only race where Allamakee County voters went completely against the grain of the statewide consensus, they voted more in favor of Republican challenger Todd Halbur (55.23% and 3,142 votes locally) than Democrat incumbent Rob Sand (44.7% and 2,543 votes locally) in the race for State of Iowa Auditor, despite Sand utilizing the support of Allamakee County resident John Ellingson - a former Waukon City Council member and declared long-time Republican - in some of his political advertising on television. Although by a slim margin, Sand (50.07% statewide) appears to have ended up being the only Democrat elected to a State or Federal office by Iowa voters this year, edging Halbur (49.86%) in statewide voting totals by a margin of 2,614 votes, although Halbur has stated he will ask for a recount of those votes.

All Allamakee County voters also had some decisions to make regarding leadership positions in a pair of countywide groups. The Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation Commission had two seats up for election this year with two officially declared candidates to neatly fill those seats. Scott Dougherty received 4,255 votes and Don Elsbernd received 3,529 votes.

The Allamakee County Agriculture Extension Council had five seats up for election on this year’s ballot, but only four candidates listed. Those four candidates (and their vote totals) included Tim Bulman (3,807 votes), John H. Palmer (3,705 votes), Bobbi Baxter (3,667 votes) and Melissa Wedo (3,504 votes). The fifth seat on the Council will have to be filled by write-in, pending acceptance of their election to the seat. There were a total of 223 write-in votes cast in the race, and the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office reports that Jessica Deering had the most write-in votes, with 14, and she has accepted her election to the position. Additional recipients of top write-in vote totals included Shawn Gibbs with 12, Kevin Fossum with 11 and John Ellingson with 10.

A total of 47 different township trustee or clerk positions were also on this year’s ballots in various precincts represented by those positions. Each of those single-seat positions had just one candidate listed, with those candidates receiving the following vote totals:
Center Township Trustee - Dennis Nebendahl (121).
Center Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Kenneth Johnson (119).
Center Township Clerk - Michele Troendle (117).
Fairview Township Trustee - Russell Jones (87).
Fairview Township Clerk - Samantha Donahue (86).
Franklin Township Trustee - Nelson Converse (134)
Franklin Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Wes Turner (130).
Franklin Township Clerk - Diane M. Kraus (133).
French Creek Township Trustee - Anna Becker (82).
French Creek Township Clerk - Bob Hager (81).
Hanover Township Trustee - Mark D. Howe (83).
Hanover Township Clerk - Robert Larkin (82).
Iowa Township Trustee - Don Zoll (115).
Iowa Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Mike Reburn (127).
Iowa Township Clerk - Robin Harmon (125).
Jefferson Township Trustee - Bradley Winkie (193).
Jefferson Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Gregory Kerndt (188).
Jefferson Township Clerk - Michelle Donahue (191).
Lafayette Township Trustee - Dan Conway (182).
Lafayette Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Mark Kruse (182).
Lafayette Township Clerk - Mary Delaney (182).
Lansing Township Trustee - Ben Mettille (171).
Lansing Township Clerk - Joshua Aldrich (154).
Linton Township Trustee - Dan Cahoon (128).
Linton Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Susan Rose (130).
Linton Township Clerk - Dave Cahoon (129).
Ludlow Township Trustee - Lars Palmer (240).
Ludlow Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Randy Kruger (238).
Ludlow Township Clerk - Audrey Peterson (236).
Makee Township Trustee - Adam Bieber (214).
Makee Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Heath Dee (222).
Makee Township Clerk - Brad Berns (221).
Paint Creek Township Trustee - Kent McCormick (149).
Paint Creek Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Jamie Cahalan (147).
Paint Creek Township Clerk - Virgil Thorstenson (145).
Post Township Trustee - William Christofferson (156).
Post Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Richard Berns (155).
Post Township Clerk - Cindy Berns (155).
Taylor Township Trustee - Ron Cota (192).
Taylor Township Clerk - Tom Cota (189).
Union City Township Trustee - George Beardmore (105).
Union City Township Clerk - Charlene Paus (102).
Union Prairie Township Trustee - Perry Fahey (249).
Union Prairie Township Clerk - Tony Baxter (232).
Waterloo Township Trustee - Jeffrey S. Tyribakken (86).
Waterloo Township Trustee (to fill a vacancy) - Todd Passig (86).
Waterloo Township Clerk - David Schulte (92).

In the six election ballot items featuring retention of judges at the State of Iowa Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District 1 levels, the Allamakee County percentage of support between statewide and districtwide results varied. Garnering a larger percentage of support in Allamakee County than statewide, both Iowa Supreme Court Justices on the ballot were retained, including Matthew McDermott (74.25% and 3,285 “yes” votes locally vs. 67.52% statewide) and Dana Oxley (72.74% and 3,069 “yes” votes locally vs. 66.99% statewide), as were Iowa Court of Appeals Judges Paul Ahlers (76.34% and 3,301 “yes” votes locally vs. 70.17% statewide) and Gina Badding (74.45% and 3,057 “yes” votes locally vs. 70.76% statewide).

In contrast, the two judges in District 1A, which includes 11 counties in northeast Iowa, each received less support from Allamakee County voters than they did districtwide. Laura J. Parrish garnered 77.80% approval districtwide but dipped a bit to 77.27% (3,351 “yes” votes) locally. Michael J. Shubatt experienced a bit wider margin in those two levels, receiving 77.33% support districtwide but falling to 74.63% (3,138 “yes” votes) among Allamakee County voters.