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Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker says he won't run for reelection

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Kate Payne
IPR file
Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker has announced he won't seek reelection. The first African American to hold the seat, Walker says he plans to continue to work to elect other progressive candidates across the state and the country.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker has announced he will not run for reelection. Walker made history as the first African American to hold the seat and is currently the chair of the board. He says he intends to finish out his term, which runs through January 2023.

A Cedar Rapids native first elected to the post in 2016, Walker announced Wednesday that it’s time for him to “make space for new leaders” and pursue other opportunities.

“It was important to me to make my announcement soon, so that I can leave a long runway of opportunity for potential candidates to consider whether they will run for this seat,” Walker said in a written statement.

“I think diversity of leadership is extremely important. While it has been an incredible honor to be the first African American elected to county office here in Linn, I surely don’t want to be the last minority to serve in elected office at the county level here. It is my sincere hope that women and people of color find it in their heart to pursue this seat,” the statement continued.

Seen as a charismatic speaker and a next generation leader within the state Democratic party, Walker says he plans to continue helping other progressive candidates run for office in Iowa and across the country. Named by the Des Moines Register as one of the “50 most wanted Democrats” heading into the 2020 Iowa Caucuses, Walker made national news when he endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

As of now, Walker says he has no plans to run for another office.

As he prepares to finish out his term, Walker said he’s proud of his work to bring attention to issues of poverty, violence and systemic inequities and his efforts to elevate young leaders in the county.

Walker highlighted his work to develop the Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities program, which evaluated economic disparities and opportunities and provided grant funding to support community organizations. He also sought reforms through the Law Enforcement Roundtable, which developed initiatives like a drug diversion program, second chance hiring initiatives and annual expungement clinics to help individuals access legal advice. He also worked with local activists to officially declare a Climate Crisis in the county and to create the Linn County Office of Sustainability.

“It was my hope to make county government a major player in the most pressing issues facing our community, and I believe I was successful in bringing a dynamism to our government that not only shined a bright light on the issues, but offered progressive solutions as well,” Walker said.

Walker says he plans to spend the balance of his time in office focusing on an initiative that would make it easier for underserved communities to access post-secondary education.