After falling 800 votes shy in his bid to unseat former Supervisor Rick Sanders in the 2018 general election, Josh Opperman announced a formal bid for the vacant Board of Supervisors seat on June 5.
Opperman, an attorney and a policy and procedure consultant at Iowa State University, said that experiences from his 2018 campaign and his familiarity with county government motivated his decision to run for the vacant seat.
“I ran for the position last year and came pretty close, but once Rick left, the time seemed right to try again,” Opperman said to the Tribune on June 6. “I spent a lot of time studying the county and its various issues (last year), and it really has helped me figure out what the needs of the county are.”
One issue the county and its residents face, according to Opperman, is how workforce is affected by lack of affordable child care and transportation accommodations.
“One of the problems I see pretty frequently in the county is transportation and child care,” Opperman said. “People can’t afford to work because they can’t get to work. Or if they have to work, the job that they do have can’t offset child care expenses. We have extremely extensive waiting periods for child care in the county, and that affects residents’ ability to work.”
Opperman said those issues, along with lack of affordable housing, can have a deterring effect on viable talent, both from ISU and out-of-state to work and live in the county.
“Young people who graduate from ISU and may want to stay in Story County can’t afford to stay in Story County,” Opperman said. “They can’t afford rent or housing payments in Ames because the housing prices are sky-high. They can’t afford to live in Nevada because that’s an extra half-hour commute, and where are they going to get child care?”
The labor market was a major platform issue for Opperman in the 2018 election.
Touting his background as a consultant at ISU and prior human resource experiences, Opperman feels his background would translate well with the Supervisor’s function of approving personnel decisions for the county.
Opperman also championed his commitment to the role and the county as why he would be a suitable fit to fill the seat on the board.
“I have only increased my commitment to the county since my 2018 campaign left, and I am not here to accept a lucrative position and leave after a few years,” Opperman said. “The residents of Story County are accustomed and deserve a supervisor who intends to keep the position and stay on the board until they are voted out. If I’m appointed as supervisor, I am here to stay, and I am committed.”
The Vacancy Committee, consisting of County Auditor Lucy Martin, County Recorder Stacie Herridge, and County Treasurer Ted Rasmusson, will meet to discuss a finalist pool that includes Democrats Opperman and state Rep. Lisa Heddens, and former Nevada mayor Lyn Lathrop, who is a Republican, in a series of meetings scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 10 and June 13.
A new supervisor will be sworn in at the June 18 Board of Supervisors meeting, joining the current board of Chair Linda Murken and Supervisors Lauris Olson, both of whom are Democrats.
A vacancy does not reset Sanders’ term, and the appointed supervisor will serve a term until the next election. The seat was vacated after Sanders, a Republican, officially stepped down from his position on May 31 to become the new president of the Iowa State University Research Park.