Woodbury County's commissioner of elections on Friday canceled the voter registration of a county supervisor who had purchased a home last year outside of the district he was elected to serve. The supervisor, Jeremy Taylor, expressed his intent to file an appeal hours after the decision.
Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor last May bought a home on Christy Road in Sioux City, about 9 miles southeast of the address where he is registered to vote, on Grandview Blvd.
County Commissioner of Elections Pat Gill on Thursday heard testimony from Taylor and challenger Maria Rundquist about Taylor’s voter registration. Rundquist produced copies of Taylor’s water bills.
The bills, which voter Dan Greenwell had filed an open records request for from Sioux City, showed that Taylor has used almost no water at the Grandview Boulevard home where he is registered to vote, since buying the new home on Christy Road. The bills, Greenwell said, showed zero water usage for each month from July through November, 100 cubic feet of water used in December, and zero water usage in the period ending Jan. 3.
“What you really conclude with this is subsequent to the purchase of his home, there was no water usage, no material usage at all,” Greenwell said, “which would indicate no one is living there and no one is using water at that location. Which in my view, no water equals no residence.”
Taylor told IPR in a later interview that he confirmed with Sioux City's water department that water usage is cumulative, so it is misleading to say there was zero water used per month, he said. Taylor said between the 4-month period of August and December, he used between 748 and 1,500 gallons of water.
A Sioux City customer service employee said in an email that on average, the city expects to see 1 to 2 centum cubic feet, or nearly 750 gallons to nearly 1,500 gallons, used per person per month.
Taylor responded to the water bills during the hearing, saying from May 29 to June 20, he was deployed to Romania as a Major in the Iowa National Guard. His wife left for Vietnam a couple of weeks after he returned, Taylor said, so he stayed in his home on Christy Road to take care of his children for about a month.
Taylor showed copies of his driver’s license, a property tax statement, statements from people who live near him on Grandview Boulevard, and other documents to prove that he does live at his Grandview home. But Gill concluded Taylor actually lives in the home where he isn’t registered to vote, and revoked his registration.
“While these documents indicate the address various entities and organizations have on file for Mr. Taylor, they say nothing about where he was actually living,” wrote Gill in his ruling.
Taylor expressed his intent to appeal Gill's decision Friday. During an afternoon news conference, Taylor said the ruling Friday morning, "resulted in Auditor Pat Gill ignoring the overwhelming evidence that was presented, including five statements from adjacent neighbors that testified that I have met the legal requirements of residency and do reside in the Grandview [Boulevard] residence."
A date for an appeal hearing is pending.
A panel of three county officials will hear arguments for another challenge brought against Taylor from a resident who says Taylor should give up his county supervisor seat because he does not live in the county district that he was elected for in 2018. The Woodbury County Auditor's Office says this hearing has now been pushed back because of Taylor's intent to appeal.
Taylor was reelected to a second term on the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors in November 2018. He is also a Republican primary candidate for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. A spokesperson for the Iowa Secretary of State says Friday’s ruling does not affect Taylor’s candidacy for the 4th Congressional District.
“The law states a candidate must meet all the requirements to register to vote, but does not have to be registered to vote,” Iowa Secretary of State Communications Director Kevin Hall said in an email. “To run for U.S. House representative, a candidate must have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years at the time they are sworn into office, a resident of the district at the time of the election, and at least 25 years old.”
Editor's Note 1/26/2020: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Dan Greenwell's name.
Editor's Note 1/27/2020: This story has been corrected to clarify that Taylor has not actually filed an appeal, but says he intends to.