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Incumbents roll in Black Hawk County supervisor primary

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WATERLOO — Black Hawk County Democrats provided a vote of confidence to their sitting county elected officials.

All three incumbent members of the county Board of Supervisors easily won their party’s nominations in Tuesday’s primary election, outdistancing two newcomers who had hoped to take their place.

Supervisor Chris Schwartz, Linda Laylin, and Tom Little will be running again to retain their seats in the November general election.

While no Republicans ran for supervisor in the primary, the GOP could hold a convention this summer to nominate candidates to fill out the general election ballot.

Schwartz, the current board chairman in his first term, was the unofficial top vote-getter among the Democratic supervisor hopefuls, taking 7,890 ballots.

Two-term supervisor Linda Laylin finished second with 7,427 votes, followed by four-term incumbent Tom Little with 6,344 votes.

Terrance J. Hollingsworth, an independent investment banker from Waterloo, and former GMAC Mortgage/Ocwen Loan Servicing executive Marty Postel of Cedar Falls came up short in their first runs for supervisor. They earned 3,683 and 2,535 votes respectively.

“It feels really great,” Schwartz said. “I’m really humbled to have this much support from so many people in the county.”

Schwartz ran a strong social media campaign, which was a huge asset at a time when COVID-19 health concerns scuttled traditional campaigning.

“We had to communicate with people a lot with social media and mail and phone calls instead of just knocking on doors,” he said. “Elected officials need to adapt really quickly when (situations) come up and I think the same goes for campaigning.”

Laylin said she also was humbled to be chosen from what she viewed as five good candidates.

“I’d like to think that people thought we’ve done a good job and what to keep us working,” she said.

Little also noted the unique campaign conditions and said he was “really pleased for not raising or spending any money” on his campaign.

“It was really tough (due to COVID-19),” he said. “As far as yard signs, you didn’t want to really bother people. It was the weirdest primary I’ve ever been involved in.”

Black Hawk County still set a modern record for primary voter turnout despite the pandemic as many people voted absentee by mail. County Auditor Grant Veeder said an unofficial 17,634 ballots were cast, breaking the previous high of 15,816 voters in 1994.

Veeder and Sheriff Tony Thompson were both unopposed in the Democratic primary, but they will face challenges in the general election. Supervisor Dan Trelka won the GOP nomination to run for sheriff and Billie Jo Heth is the Republican nominee to challenge Veeder.

Other counties

There were a handful of other contested county-level primary races in Northeast Iowa.

In Butler County, Leslie Groen knocked off incumbent Auditor Lizbeth Williams, 989 to 725, to win the Republican nomination in November.

In Buchanan County, Scott Buzynski easily defeated Glen Fults Jr. for the Republican sheriff’s nomination by a margin of 1,137 to 202 votes.

In Grundy County, Lucas Halverson defeated four-term incumbent supervisor James Ross, 176-160, to win the Republican nomination for District 1.

It was a busy night in the Winneshiek County primary for county supervisor seats, with many tight races.

Republican Julie Askelson defeated Darrin Walter for the District 3 nomination, 128 to 91 votes. Daniel Langreck appeared to narrowly win the Republican nomination for the District 4 supervisor seat, picking up 165 votes to beat Devin Humpal (155) and Kent Lensch (63). And Mark Vick beat Ronald Fulsaas, 202-196, for the District 5 supervisor nomination.

In Democratic primary races for Winneshiek supervisor seats, Caithlin Palmer beat David Hageman, 169-116, in District 4, while incumbent Mark Kuhn defeated Tim Lecander, 193-126, in District 5.

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