More candidates are needed to fill empty election races in Johnson County

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - In Johnson County, the towns of Hills and Lone Tree have no one running for mayor. And they aren't alone.

Some towns in eastern Iowa are having trouble finding enough candidates to run for open positions in November 2019 (KCRG File)

In Tiffin, only one person has filed paperwork to run for city council but there are two open seats. A similar situation is happening in Swisher, where two people are running for three open seats.

It translates to more work for election staff and some uncertainty for those living in the community.

In Lone Tree, Jon Green’s time as mayor is wrapping up. He’s not running for re-election.

“Lone Tree is 1,447 people, and I've met people I didn't know before this gig and it's just fantastic,” Green said.

He said it's hard to get people to run for office in town. In part, because so many people commute to work each day.

"I'm fortunate because I work from home, but a lot of people aren't here during the workday, so it makes it tough to respond,” Green said.

This is a problem many smaller communities face.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said elections get a bit messy without enough candidates. If not enough people run for election, poll workers have to resort to counting write-in spots on a ballot.

“And if someone receives the write-in spot and doesn't want the job it becomes a vacancy," Weipert said. "We're not allowed to go to the second write in so that would lead to the city council appointing someone or a special election which will cost taxpayers money."

Both the auditor's office and community members hope more people come forward before the filing deadline. But, it is probably not too likely.

“Usually by now, word of mouth gets to us that so and so is thinking of running or out collecting signatures," Weipert said. "But we haven't heard that yet, either, which is concerning."

The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday.

A few communities in Linn County are experiencing similar issues. Bertram, Coggon, Lisbon, and Walker all need more candidates for city council.

This year's general election is on Tuesday, November 5th.