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Commissioner voteMayor Mark Holland, left, cast the tie vote July 11 for commissioner at the Unified Government Commission meeting at City Hall. At the top right is Commissioner Mike Kane. At the bottom right is Tom Wiss, UG auditor, totaling the votes. (Staff photo)
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Commissioner voteUnified Government Clerk Bridgette Cobbins collected the ballot of Commissioner Angela Markley, left, during the July 11 Unified Government Commission meeting. (Staff photo)
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Commissioner voteResidents listened to the Unified Government Commission discussion during the July 11 Unified Government Commission meeting. (Staff photo)
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Commissoner voteMore than 50 people attended the Unified Government Commission meeting July 11 at Kansas City, Kan., City Hall. (Staff photo)
The Unified Government on July 11 reached an impasse on selecting a new Unified Government commissioner in the 1st District, at large position. And the commission also voted down Mayor Mark Holland’s suggestion to dip back into the pool of 18 applicants to find new candidates.
A commission vote on Thursday, July 11, resulted in the same 5-4 initial vote for Don Budd, followed by a 5-5 tie vote with the mayor’s vote cast for Nathan Barnes.
The same result had occurred at other votes earlier. On July 11 the commission again took a paper ballot vote, this time announcing the votes of each commissioner afterward. The five votes for Budd were from Commissioners Mike Kane, Angela Markley, Jim Walters, Ann Murguia and Hal Walker. The four votes for Barnes were Commissioners Jane Philbrook, Brian McKiernan, Gayle Townsend, and Tarence Maddox. Mayor Holland then voted for Barnes.
After the tie vote, Mayor Holland moved to set the two candidates aside and select two others from the candidate pool. From the audience, with more than 50 people in attendance, were some “No, no,” responses.
The vote was 7-2 against going back to the pool, with Commissioners Brian McKiernan and Jane Philbrook supporting the mayor’s position.
Commissioner Mike Kane said the UG set the guidelines and only two of the 18 got through to the finalist stage.
“It is completely wrong to change the process because the mayor doesn’t think it’s fit,” Kane said.
He said that any changes in the selection process should wait to be made until the next time (when another seat opens), and not in the current process.
Commissioner Gayle Townsend said she would like to see other options considered at this point because she believed they had reached an impasse. She suggested the possibility of either having a special election at the polls for the public to vote on a candidate, leaving the seat open until the election in two years, or flipping a coin and letting the coin toss decide the winner, if the two candidates agreed to it.
Commissioner Hal Walker agreed at some point the commission has to move on, without any new information that would change votes.
Commissioner Brian McKiernan said the commission was at the point of diminishing returns.
Commissioner Angela Markley said if the commission went back to the pool of 18 candidates, they could very well end up in a same 5-4 vote.
Commissioner Kane supported a comment by Commissioner Jim Walters about the majority of the commission, 5-4, supporting Budd. Kane asked, if the mayor stops the commission on voting for this, what else would he stop them from doing?
He said the commission ought to change the rules of the selection process so that the mayor doesn’t vote.
Commissioner Tarence Maddox said the UG needed to stick with the process it had approved previously for selection of the commissioner, and it allowed the mayor to vote in the case of a 5-4 vote.
Mayor Holland said he believed the UG had a responsibility to fill the open seat. He pointed out that six is the number of votes needed to pass most issues at the commission, and it has been that way since the beginning of the commission.
People voted their hearts, he said, and were at an impasse.
Commissioner Kane wasn’t quite ready to let it go, however.
“Mayor, say you step up and vote for Don, and we’ll get this thing done,” Kane said.
After his idea to reach back into the pool of applicants was voted down 7-2, Mayor Holland said the UG was in a “state of no decision,” and adjourned the meeting.
After the meeting, Budd, who was sequestered outside the meeting room, said he had no comment.
Barnes, who was also outside of the meeting room, said he must have been psychic when he remarked after Holland’s swearing-in ceremony that the mayor’s biggest challenge would be picking his replacement for the 1st District, at-large seat.
“History has a way of resolving these issues,” Barnes said. With research, there could be a way of solving what is just a “simple fence dispute,” he said.
Also after the meeting, Mayor Holland said the position is open at this point, and open-ended.
“I would have liked to fill it,” Holland said. He would not have chosen not to do anything, “but that was chosen by the majority of the commissioners,” he said.
Commissioner Murguia, after the meeting, said, “I think it was a good process, I just think the commission feels very strongly about their candidates.”
Sometimes disagreement makes for a good government, she said. “I’m OK with leaving the seat open,” she said. She also would have no objection to putting the commissioner on the ballot for a vote of the general public. However, she did have objections to changing the process in the middle of the selection.
After the meeting, Commissioner Kane said, “I think we need to continue on. If you negotiate a contract, you may not get it done in four weeks or four months. It takes a while. You just don’t give up. Giving up in six votes – the people deserve more than that.”
During the meeting, some commissioners stated that they all get along, although they disagree on some issues.