Leadership is something we’ve been blessed with in this community. And luckily for us it’s not the policy-making only leadership but the roll-up-your-sleeves, get dirty and get-it-done leadership.
This month we say goodbye to several long-time elected leaders in our Wyandotte County community through retirement and the recent elections: Mayor Joe Reardon, Commissioner Nathan Barnes, Commissioner John Mendez, Commissioner Tom Cooley and Commissioner Butch Ellison from the Unified Government and Mayor Clausie Smith in Bonner Springs. These folks along with our other past and present elected officials have spent long hours working on our community over the years and leading the charge and changes needed to make things happen.
We’ve certainly seen the success in the west, but it’s also been throughout our Wyandotte County community. Making things happen and or change is not easy and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot wading through details and painful as it is - time. Some of those details are important to all and some to only a few. Sometimes it is downright messy. But I believe we’ve seen the good that has come from these folks we’ve elected sticking it out and working it out.
Leadership doesn’t just happen with elected officials and while I’ve seen lots of examples of it over my years here, there is one this week that truly stands out. A few weeks ago we learned the 8th Street YMCA was going to close and that was a shocking surprise to many. But some did not quit even with the clock ticking to an April 12 closing date. Bill Hutton, an attorney here and a self-proclaimed “Y – guy,” as well as Y board member, worked with YMCA officials, YMCA board members and Unified Government staff to come up with a compromise solution. They succeeded on April 4 to keep the downtown Y open until we as a community can determine our own fate when it comes to a downtown Y. Bill didn’t do it alone, but he led the charge. Even after frantic work over the last week or so, the work is not done and Bill and others have agreed to continue to lead.
I am personally thankful for the work of the two soon to be former mayors and commissioners. I look forward to the leadership of our new mayors in the UG and Bonner Springs, current and new commissioners, and know they too will continue to work for the betterment of the whole community. And I am thankful for Bill Hutton and the many other everyday citizens who go out and make things happen to work towards a even better community in which to live work and play.
Cindy Cash is the president and CEO of the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce.