By Tim Nedoba
Johnson County – Brad grew-up in nearby West Branch attended West Branch Community Schools and graduated with the class of 1997. Brad served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT-B with the West Branch Fire Department and later with the North Liberty Fire Department. In 2009 Brad decided to go back to school and enrolled at the University of Iowa, the same year he began his first term as a member of the Solon City Council. Brad graduated in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Religious Studies.
Kunkel has been a full time deputy sheriff with the Johnson County Sheriff’s office since 2001 upon graduation from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and I was a reserve deputy prior to his full time appointment. During his years at the Sheriff’s Office he’s worked in the jail and on patrol. In 2013 he was promoted to Sergeant; not only did he serve as a shift supervisor he was also the Liaison to the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit. In 2017 he was promoted to Detective and in 2019 he was named the Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer. Kunkel has an Associate’s Degree from Kirkwood in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement; He also earnded a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Minor in Religious Studies from the University of Iowa.
GoGuide goes one-on-one with Brad Kunkel
GoGuide:Are you actively seeking the LGBTQ+ vote?
Brad Kunkel: I’m seeking the vote from people across Johnson County and I would be honored to have the support of the LGBTQ+ community. After I announced my campaign last year the first parade I participated in was the 2019 Iowa City Parade and it was a blast. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights and as Sheriff I will ensure that our staff treats everyone with respect and dignity.
GG: We’re all familiar with the recent problems in Muscatine County. I know there are no absolutes, but how would work to ensure a similar situation would not arise under your administration?
BK: Hate has no place in law enforcement and I support how Johnson County has handled this situation. To ensure this does not happen under my administration I would start by making my values and and expectations clear to the Sheriff’s Office staff; this includes my belief that bigotry is unacceptable and inclusivity is embraced.
Editors note – On April 10, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that Muscatine County Jail Administrator Dean Naylor, a captain with the sheriff’s department, had published online a lengthy treatise in which he called Muslims “pawns of the devil” and describes “the gay lifestyle” as an abomination. Naylor was reportedly placed on administrative leave.
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GG: Does the Johnson County Sheriff’s office have any outreach programs or diversity programming designed specifically for dealing with the LGTBQ community or dealing with people living with HIV/AIDS?
BK: Deputies participate in diversity and implicit bias training that includes information about the LGBTQ+ community but I don’t recall anything specifically for people living with HIV/AIDS. Johnson County is great about making implicit bias training and diversity available to all employees.
GG: If elected in November, what would be your top priorities?
BK: I’m running because I’ve dedicated my life to public service and law enforcement in Johnson County. This is my home and I’m excited about the opportunity to lead the Sheriff’s Office while continuing to build connections between law enforcement and the community. My top priorities are implementing a comprehensive domestic violence protocol, collaborating to form a computer forensics and cyber crime task force, and support our Jail Alternatives program and Crisis Intervention Training. I also look forward to being a strong partner with the GuideLink Center to continue connecting people with services instead of incarceration.
Editors note – GuideLink is the now under construction Center in Johnson County, also known as, the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC). BHUCCO is described as a sobering and crisis stabilization center meant to serve as an alternative to the emergency room or jail for those in the community dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues.
GG: Please offer anything else you feel is essential for our readers to know when they vote in the Democratic Primary June 2?
BK: Local elections are important, especially when choosing a Sheriff because this is the only direct connection between the voting public and a law enforcement leader. I’m confident that my record of service to the Sheriff’s Office, to the non-profit community, and as a previously elected official will serve the county well as the next Johnson County Sheriff. GG
Local Endorsements for Johnson County Sheriff
“I will be voting for Brad Kunkel. He is tested, a leader, has County Sheriff experience and is a strong Democrat. He supports jail alternatives and crisis intervention training initiatives. Brad has always been supportive of Robin and myself and attended our 30 wedding anniversary and gave us custom coasters. I would consider him LGBTQ friendly, but frankly it has never come up.” Janelle Rettig, Johnson County Supervisor
“Johnson County Democrats: I hope you will join me in voting for Brad Kunkel to be our next Sheriff in the upcoming June primary. Brad is a great candidate and will be an excellent Sheriff.” Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls
“My name is Brad Kunkel and I’m 40 years old. I’m a West Branch native but have lived in Johnson County for about 21 years. My wife Julie and I live in rural Solon with our three sons. I’m an active member of the Johnson County community and is passionate about service, victim advocacy, service, cooperation and integrity.” – Brad Kunkel