Anyone who’s run for office or held an elected position can tell you — public service often comes with significant personal cost.
Weekends away from family as you campaign for votes. Long nights in committee meetings. Scrutiny of your personal and public life, sometimes which can go too far.
Sure, we see some members of Congress cash out as they exit the door to lobbying firms, but much of that is at the federal level, and even those people missed out on years of kids’ play recitals, family gatherings and more.
At some point, even the most satisfied, accomplished elected officials ask themselves, is this all worth it?
That’s a question it seems Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor has answered for himself, but it hasn’t brought him much peace.
This past week in Sioux City, a bizarre proceeding played out as scrutiny over Taylor’s place of official residence in town was placed under the microscope.
Local Democrats have argued for the better part of a year that after Taylor’s family bought a new house outside his supervisor district, he appears to no longer live at the old one they still own. Supervisors in Woodbury County are elected county-wide, but represent — and are required to live in — specific districts.
So, Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill convened a special hearing to look into just where Jeremy Taylor actually lives. What played out was weird, and more than a little sad.
“During Thursday’s testimony, Taylor said he has ‘taken great steps’ to maintain his legal residency at the Grandview Boulevard home, staying there four nights per week, even though it’s a hardship to miss his wife and six children, who spend 90 percent of their time in their larger home on Christy Road,” wrote the Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth.
One of Taylor’s problems was that he had rented out the Grandview house to three people who had listed the address on their own voter registration forms. Taylor, too, is registered to vote at the Grandview home and he uses it for his official residence for purposes of his supervisor seat.
“I am there (Grandview) most of the time alone…We haven’t lived traditional lives,” Hayworth reported Taylor saying at the hearing.
Those questioning his residency produced city water bills that showed Taylor’s Grandview home hadn’t been billed for water usage in months. One neighbor down the block claimed he’d seen no activity at the house; Taylor later accused people of monitoring his house to the extent that he felt the need to contact police.
All this just to hold a county supervisor seat.
Spending four nights a week away from his large, young family, as Taylor says. Upending your life instead of buying a larger home that’s in the district… or just giving up the supervisor seat. Having to get your neighbors to vouch for your residency, while being paranoid of others peeking out their blinds at you.
That’s not much of a life.
Local Democrats there have long detested Taylor, seeing him as an overly-ambitious, right-wing politician who always has his eye on the next election (though that could be said of many political candidates). Taylor served one term in the Iowa House before losing in 2012 after he got paired up with Rep. Chris Hall in redistricting.
He was elected to the board of supervisors in 2014, and began running for Congress in the Republican primary to take on Steve King shortly after his supervisor reelection. Possibly complicating things for that bid, he listed the Grandview address on his FEC forms. It’s a big jump already from supervisor to knocking off an incumbent member of Congress in a primary.
Gill ended up deciding to cancel Taylor’s voter registration after the hearing, though Taylor is challenging that decision, which should drag out any resolution on what happens to his supervisor seat. If a seat is found to be vacant, a new election gets held.
The resulting news coverage surrounding every twist and turn of Taylor’s residency can’t be helpful as he tries to put together a winning primary campaign. It also presents just an odd picture of someone who’s allowing a completely unnecessary and just weird complication for his public service to upend his personal life in such a way.
But given how Taylor described his life at the hearing, that all seems like it should be one of his least concerns.
Some things, even serving in prominent public elected positions, just aren’t worth it if that’s what it costs.
by Pat Rynard