We are thirty days away from the 2012 Presidential election and here in Iowa voters are already casting their votes. Since September 28th, early and absentee voting is underway, even as candidates and their surrogates are out in force trying to swing votes or to reach the 2 to 3% of Iowans who have not made up their mind.
Another important race to watch is between incumbent Democrat Congressman Dave Loebsack who is facing his hardest campaign to date from former John Deere lawyer and Republican challenger, John Archer in the newly reformed 2nd District. Loebsack will rely on heavy voter turnout in Linn and Johnson counties to offset more conservative strongholds in the southeast and Quad Cities support for Archer.
Also on the flip side of the ballot, for Johnson County residents is the bond issue to build a "Justice Center" or a $48 million combined jail and courthouse on the existing courthouse property. While few would argue that the current courthouse and jail are antiquated and, therefore, inadequate for current demand, the larger picture of whether a bigger jail is likely to lead to increased incarceration of minorities and students busted for minor offenses. While it is fair to argue the case, pragmatically, we are faced with inhumane conditions, lawyers who have no place to meet with their clients and arraigned defendants who are housed in six other counties at an increasingly higher expense.
Lastly, on side two of the ballot is the vote to retain Iowa District and Supreme Court Justices. David Wiggins is being targeted for removal because of his vote that supported same sex marriage in Iowa. What is more at stake is replacing an independent judiciary with political surrogates put forth by a nominating committee whose majority is of one party and approved by the Governor of the same party. The determination by those who want to push a state constitutional question that two other US Constitution rights already has covered is reliant to some extent on removing Judge David Wiggins. Iowans would be wise to keep a competent judge on the job by voting for his retention.