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Mayor, vice mayor discuss process to find next city manager PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:46

• Leader & Times

The Liberal community was still reacting Tuesday after the announcement of the termination of Mark Hall as Liberal’s city manager. According to new commissioners Connie Seigrist and Taylor Harden (who were chosen as mayor and vice mayor, respectively), the change had been on the minds of many in the Liberal community. 

“I felt like it was what the citizens of Liberal wanted, I feel that’s why I was elected, to bring about a change at City Hall,” Seigrist said.

“Realistically, it was the new contract, that new contract changed absolutely everything about the situation surrounding Mark Hall,” Harden added. “In my belief, it was exceedingly unfair to Mr. Hall from the old commission because it had put such a large target on his back. For all intents and purposes, I view that contract as a weapon deployed against the incoming commission and the people of the city of Liberal. It was unfortunate that came into existence because before that existed, it was a totally different situation.”

The commission ultimately voted 3-2 (with commissioners Justin Varnes and Tony Martinez voting no) to terminate Hall in his position and according to Seigrist and Harden, there was no animosity regarding the vote. 

“I felt perfectly fine with it, I’m glad Justin and Tony stood up for what they believed and I’m glad Connie, Jack and I stood up for what we believed to be right,” Harden said. “With Justin, he stayed very true to his constituents – he absolutely said when he was running he would not fire Mr. Hall at the first meeting. I didn’t ever say that and had alluded to looking forward to working with Mr. Hall. But once that contract came out, it made me triple down on my research to figure out if we were in a bad situation or not. It didn’t bother me at all to see the vote go 3-2, it didn’t bother me at all to see Justin vote the way he did or Tony. I personally would like to see more split-decision votes from the commission because it shows we’re all independent thinkers who represent our view and our constituents’ views.”

“Every person has a vote, and it’s their right to vote however they choose,” Seigrist added. “Mr. Varnes and Mr. Martinez chose to vote no and us other three chose to vote yes. I can’t say anymore about that, each of us has to vote with our convictions.”

And while it is yet too early in the process to announce a timeline of when a new city manager would be installed, both agreed the commission is ready to get to work. 

“We’ll immediately start advertising for a new city manager and hopefully the League of Kansas Municipalities can forward us some potential qualified candidates for us,” Seigrist said. “We’re right at the beginning of that whole process.”

“The number one thing is we’ll be getting a full list of available applicants from the League of Kansas Municipalities and then we’ll all start going through them all,” Harden added. “We’re not allowed to look at all of them as a group, which I think is a good thing because what I’m hoping is maybe Jack will come back with a pile of applicants he likes or Tony will have a list of the applicants he likes, so on, and then when we all come together, there will be a big consensus of the best person to put in that position.”

Another factor noted was the amount of people in the audience for Monday evening’s meeting, and both Harden and Seigrist asked for the community’s patience with the process. 

“I was pleased with the number of people who attended the meeting, that showed people are interested in our city and what happens here,” Seigrist said. “We probably didn’t please everyone last night but at least we made a change, so I hope everyone will come back to all the meetings and come back to support the commissioners.”

“I want to tell everyone who lives in the community who’s been following this situation how I truly appreciate all the support from the community,” Harden added. “This was a very frustrating situation, it was something no one wanted to have to deal with. I was pretty worried about the response from it even though I was convinced it was the best direction for the city. I appreciate everyone allowing us to make that decision and remaining non-hostile about it. We will prove over time we did make the right decision and we’ll rebuild this community. Don’t be a stranger, reach out to us and let us know your praises or concerns about what’s going on or any ideas you have. If we’re going to grow Liberal in a way it’s never grown before, it’s going to be because we had a concerted effort where everyone works together. One of the things I’m most excited about is I feel like we have a genuine opportunity to for the city commission and the county commission work more closely together than in the past, which is extremely important.”




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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