BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Voters have said that it’s not the right time to build new facilities and elected Clinton Boddicker as the next Lee County Attorney.
Boddicker rolled to an easy 2,462 to 1,642 win over current Lee County Attorney Ross Braden. The referendum on building a new $2.6 million health department was a bit closer, but still a decisive rejection with 2,289 voters opposing the measure and 1,872 in support of the new building.
The ballots remain unofficial until canvassed by the County Board of Supervisors. Auditor Denise Fraise will give a few more days for absentee ballots to show up that are postmarked Tuesday. The county board will then sign off on the canvass, most likely at their next meeting. Then Boddicker will be sworn in.
Boddicker did very well with almost an 80-20 split in Keokuk and also held his own in the north part of the county taking a 45-55 split in Fort Madison and north county precincts.
“First of all, I’m glad the campaign is over, and I’m very happy with the result,” Boddicker said Tuesday evening. “I’m grateful that Ross and I conducted a clean campaign with each other. I’m thankful for all the supporters I had in both ends of the county who went out and knocked on doors, made phone calls, and stuffed envelopes.”
Boddicker interviewed to fill the position after Mike Short retired, along with Braden and one other candidate from the Dubuque area. Braden was appointed to fill the position in February by Lee County Supervisors.
Boddicker said his strategy was to focus on a good showing in the north and counting on his history with Keokuk to carry that part of the county.
“I live in Keokuk, so all along my strategy was to get a good result in south Lee County and then try to get a respectable showing in Fort Madison and north Lee County.”
Braden said he was very disappointed in his showing in the north part of the county.
“I was very disappointed with how I did in Fort Madison. I think that was about 55% to 45%. It was just too tight there,” Braden said.
“Frankly, it didn’t seem to be a north/south thing. I expected not to get the majority vote in Keokuk. I did think I would do better there since I have roots there. It seems like 85 to 15 and I was expecting 75-25.”
Braden said he would be very interested in sticking with the Lee County Attorneys’ office in an assistant position and Boddicker said the two had already spoken.
“Yeah, I’ve already talked with Ross and early next week we’ll sit down and have a meeting and sort that out,” Boddicker said.
Braden thanked all his supporters, including his family and friends, who helped him throughout the campaign. But admitted being a rookie to the political system was eye-opening for him.
“I think Clinton himself ran a good campaign. I did encounter some nasty situations in politics in general. Being a rookie I didn’t know what to expect. Some people that I consider friends disappointed me in the realm of politics. But definitely not Clinton.”
Fort Madison broke in favor of building the new health department but by a tight margin with all precincts coming in in favor of the building. All Keokuk precincts were just the opposite with larger margins of opposition in each precinct. The only rural precinct to vote in favor of the new building was Jefferson Township.
Lee County Supervisor Matt Pflug, who serves as a liaison from the Board of Supervisors to the Lee County Health Department, said it’s just time to regroup and come up with a different plan. He said it’s still uncertain what will happen with the air quality issue at the health department’s current building.
“Well, the only thing you say now is ‘we’re gonna have to regroup and figure what’s next’,” he said. “We’re still waiting on the results for the air quality. We might have to scramble. That’s the concern I have and we’re gonna have to do so something. I mean you were only talking about $7 a year on a $100,00 home. That’s a movie ticket.”
He said he thinks that people are just tired of being taxed and taxed.
“It’s just what it is. It’s a tough thing to try to figure out. What we’ll do is sit down and look at the next move. Hopefully that air thing will turn out ok.”