Supervisors, candidates discuss minimum wage

County supervisors in Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello counties are considering increasing or already have increased the minimum wage above the federal and state rate of $7.25 per hour.

All three members of the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, as well as candidates for the supervisor seat up in November, gave their thoughts on minimum wage.

“My belief is that (minimum wage) is market-driven,” said Board member Dave Thompson. He and his wife, Kathy, also own Thompson True Value Hardware.

He said the county supervisors shouldn’t dictate minimum wage, saying that is the job of businesses in the area.

“The government has absolutely no place dictating minimum wage,” he said.

Additionally, Thompson said he believes an increase in minimum wage could hurt small businesses by making it harder to hire and pay employees, and that the businesses he’s aware of already offer starting wages above the state’s minimum wage.

Board Chair Denny Grabenbauer and Vice Chairman Bill Patten said they agreed with Thompson that the government shouldn’t dictate minimum wage.

“I don’t think (minimum wage) should be up to the supervisors,” Grabenbauer said.

Patten said he has a deep philosophical opposition to government entities dictating minimum wage.

“I believe the wages are set by the economy, not the government,” he said. “I’d question whether we (the supervisors) would have the right to (dictate minimum wage).”

He said this is an issue about which he will not change his mind.

Board members also said they haven’t heard concerns about minimum wage from members of the public.

“I have heard absolutely nothing from the public,” Thompson said, adding he wouldn’t support bringing up the issue at a board meeting.

Patten echoed Thompson’s words.

“I have not had anyone from the general public ask if we’re going to do anything (with minimum wage), either for or against,” he said.

Democrat Jon Muller and Republican Steve Salasek are running to fill Grabenbauer’s seat in the Nov. 8 general election, as the two-term supervisor will be stepping down. Both candidates held different views than current board members.

“I would be open to (increasing minimum wage),” said Salasek, adding “It ought to be something that should be taken care of at the state level.”

Salasek said he believes the current rate of $7.25 per hour was not at a sufficient level.

“We’re at $7.25, that needs to be increased,” he said, adding any increases should be added incrementally.

Muller holds a similar view.

“I do believe that the minimum wage needs to go up, but not at a rate that throws everything into chaos,” he said.

Like Salasek, Muller said he would favor an incremental increase to minimum wage over an increase in several dollars an hour at one time.

The state of Iowa currently mirrors the federal minimum wage of $7.25 along with 13 other states, per the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com