Springville Library Board President Denies Influencing Voters

By Lee Hermiston, Reporter


By Ellen Kurt

LINN COUNTY, Iowa - Though she admits to being a supporter of Springville mayoral candidate Roger Shebetka, Springville Library Board President Treva Davis said she never told a resident there how to vote in the now-contested city election.

Davis testified Thursday at the Linn County Public Service Center that in October she sent an email to friends and library board members urging them to vote for Shebetka, a Springville city council member and challenger to mayor Rick Heeren.

Reading that email to a three-member panel convened to determine if any electioneering took place Nov. 5 at the Springville Memorial Library — the community's polling place — Davis cited Shebetka's volunteer work in the city and dedication to the library and other city programs.

"He will do what’s best for the city," Davis read. "He would make a great mayor for the city of Springville."

Davis is accused by poll worker Beverly Franks of speaking with Springville resident Dayle McCleary at the library before McCleary placed his vote. Heeren and his supporters are using that allegation to contest the outcome of the election, which resulted in Shebetka winning by a margin of 5 votes, 142 to 137.

The three-person panel — Lena Gilbert, Heeren's designee; Susan Cooper, Shebetka's designee; and Cedar Rapids lawyer Brian Fagan, who was appointed by the district court to act as a neutral party — will determine whether any electioneering took place.

Eight people were subpoenaed to appear before the panel, but at least one person was out of town on Wednesday and Linn County elections commissioner Tim Box said he received word that not all the subpoenas had been served before Christmas, meaning the manner would not be decided on Wednesday. Fagan indicated he would not be able to reconvene the hearing until after the start of the new year.

Franks, the first witness called, said she was one of three poll workers stationed at the Springville library on Election Day. That morning, according to Franks, McCleary and Davis entered the polling area at that same time. Franks claims McCleary asked Davis whom he should vote for.

"They turned their backs to me, and she pointed to his ballot," Franks said. "I don’t know who she pointed to. I said, 'Treva, you can't do that,' and she walked out."

Franks said she told Janice Johnston, chairpwoman for the Springville polling site, what she had witnessed. Johnston shrugged her shoulders and did not follow up on the allegation, Franks said.

On Friday, Franks informed the auditor's office about what she said and saw.

When she took the stand, Davis said the only conversation she had with Franks was that morning, when she stopped by the library to see if the poll workers needed anything. Davis said she spoke with McCleary but did not tell him how to vote.

McCleary previously has told The Gazette that Davis did not assist him in casting his ballot. He has not been subpoenaed to testify.

Davis was at the library several times throughout Election Day, she testified — once in the morning to check on the poll workers and do some light cleaning, later between 9 and 10 a.m. to vote, that afternoon after she picked up her mail and that evening for her book club, which met at the library.

Davis said she originally was tabbed to be Shebetka's designee on the election contest panel but had to be replaced by Cooper.

In other testimony, other library board members and staff said that board members volunteer their time at the library and perform various duties at the library. None of them said they witnessed anything that would qualify as electioneering at the library on Election Day.

Cooper, Heeren's designee, called one non-subpoenaed witness, Patrick Hoyt Sr., who told the panel he had a brief interaction with Davis at the library when he went there to vote.

Hoyt, who successfully ran for a vacant seat on the city council, said Davis made a comment to him about knowing who he was voting for. Hoyt said he took that as her assuming he was voting for himself.

Davis denied that conversation ever took place.

The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Jan. 10.

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