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Royceann Porter, the first black candidate nominated for a countywide office in Johnson County, elected to the Board of Supervisors in a landslide

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Royceann Porter speaks during a candidate forum for the Dec. 18 special election. Wednesday, Dec 5, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Democrat Royceann Porter was elected to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in the special election to fill the seat of the late Kurt Michael Friese. It was a landslide victory for the longtime community activist, who won 56 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Phil Hemingway, who received 43 percent.

In November, Porter made history as the first black person nominated by a major party for a countywide office in Johnson County. She will be the first black member of the Board of Supervisors.

“As a black woman I see our community through a different set of experiences than anyone who has ever been on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors,” Porter explained at the Johnson County League of Women Voters candidates forum on Dec. 5. “Some of the experiences are good and hopeful, and some are not. We are lucky to have people on the board who take equity and equality seriously. That’s something that I do.”

Porter has served on the Iowa City Community Police Review Board and the steering committee of the Iowa City Coalition for Racial Justice. She has worked as a juvenile court liaison, and served on the Johnson County Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee and the Juvenile Justice Youth Development Policy Board. Porter also has experience with youth issues outside the justice system, having worked with the Iowa City Community School District’s Equity Committee, African American Parents’ Group and M.L. King Teachers In-Service Planning Committee.

She has been involved with many community-based organizations, and helped found both the Black Voices Project, which helps black citizens participate in community life, and the Family2Family Program, which matches families new to the Iowa City area with ones already established here.

“I’m really happy with what the Board of Supervisors has been doing,” Porter told Little Village last month. “I’ve stood with them on minimum wage, affordable housing. I want to continue the work that they are doing.”

A total of 9,658 voters — or 9.98 percent of all registered voters in Johnson County — cast ballots in the special election. That was higher turnout than in the special elections for Board of Supervisors in 2013, which had a turnout of 6.67 percent, or 2016, with a turnout of 3.82 percent.


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