Kimberly Sheets was all smiles as she was sworn in Tuesday to take what she and others felt was her rightful place as interim Warren County auditor.
There were murmurs in the community that the Warren County Board of Supervisors would not certify the results of the Aug. 29 special election that led to the ouster of a board-appointed-conspiracy-theorist as the interim auditor, but the body did its job.
During a special meeting on Tuesday, the supervisors certified that Sheets, a Democrat, defeated Republican David Whipple by a nearly two-to-one margin in the Aug. 29 race that had the highest turnout for a special election in Warren County history.
“The winner of the special election is Kimberly Sheets. I want to congratulate Kim on her victory,” said board chair Darren Heater during the meeting and after the election results were certified.
Shortly after that statement, Heater ended the meeting, and Sheets’ supporters broke out in applause while Whipple sat quietly in the crowd.
Sheets captured 5,060 votes to Whipple’s 2,540 votes, putting an end to a saga that started in June and ultimately determined who will oversee elections in the Donald Trump-supporting county south of Des Moines.
“It’s a great day for Warren County,” said Warren County Democrats Chair Jim Culbert. “We’ve said from the beginning that people need to have a say in this choice and the person that the board of supervisors [appointed]—clearly we had no say in.”
Voters “responded and chose the best candidate,” Culbert added.
Whipple’s appointment was controversial for a number of reasons. He had no experience in county government or elections and the all-Republican board chose him over Sheets, a deputy auditor who was personally recommended by the outgoing auditor, whose middle-of-the-term retirement kickstarted the process.
After his appointment, screenshots of Whipple’s (since-deleted) social media posts began circulating. In the posts, he shared various conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, QAnon, and even the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
This prompted local residents and Democratic activists to start a petition drive throughout the county.
In 14 days, residents gathered more than 3,400 signatures—about 1,000 more than they needed in a county of about 53,000 people—to trigger a special election for the remainder of the auditor’s term.
The day after the petition was turned in, Whipple placed Sheets on administrative leave.
The Warren County GOP, which has strongly supported Whipple throughout the process, tried to get more than 1,000 signatures tossed out to make the petition invalid, but ultimately a three-person panel that included Whipple agreed to move forward with the election.
When the unofficial results came in on Aug. 29, Sheets and supporters celebrated the news at an Indianola winery.
“The people of Warren County have spoken,” Sheets told Starting Line. “They want experience, they want people who run good campaigns. They have hope for our future and they want good government.”
Sheets was sworn in front of her friends, family, and supporters on Tuesday inside a courtroom at the new $31.1 million Warren County Justice Center that sits directly in the center of the Indianola town square.
Sitting up front inside a jury box for that moment was Sheets’ daughter, Jessica, who was one of the main people who encouraged her mom to run.
“I’m very proud of her,” Jessica Sheets told Starting Line. “She really just took the reins and stood up for herself and the people of Warren County.”
by Ty Rushing
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