Thursday, April 25, 2013

A new era begins in Wyandotte County as inauguration day is held


With a new Unified Government Mayor/CEO and four new commissioners on the Unified Government Board of Commissioners, a new era in Wyandotte County began Thursday evening.

Leading the newly shaped government in Wyandotte County was the inauguration of new Unified Government Mayor/CEO Mark Holland.

Holland, who served on the Unified Government Board of Commissioners for six years, replaces former UG Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon.

"I have big shoes to fill," Holland said, referring to Reardon and another former Mayor/CEO - Carol Marinovich.

Holland is the 28th mayor in Wyandotte County's history. A fourth generation Wyandotte Countian, he previously served as an-large commissioner after being pushed to enter politics six years ago.

Now as mayor, he believes the county has made program to address the remaining challenges Wyandotte County faces.

"Knowing inspite of the challenges that remain, we are in a better position to address these challenges than we've ever been," Holland said. "So I'm very excited to be taking the lead now - in this role."

Holland said his election occurred because voters in Wyandotte County wanted the current path to continue.

"The biggest endorsement is from the voters who went to the polls," Holland said. "They voted for the continuance of good government."

If there was a buzzword during the ceremony, it was the word "consensus."

Holland called for the new board to find consensus on a number of issues, saying the key ingredient that's made progress possible in Wyandotte County is consensus from all around the county.

"We are reminded the only direction we have is to go forward," Holland said. "I'm looking forward to working with the new commission."

On the new commission is Hal Walker, Gayle Townsend, Jim Walters and Jane Winkler Philbrook.

Walker, who served as the city/county Chief Legal Counsel for over 20 years, said there will be disagreement. However, consensus will come from those disagreements, comparing the local government process to how The Constitution was drawn up.

He said serving under KCK's four previous mayors and former commissioners will also help.

"I have a legacy of great people that have served in the seat I'm about to take," Walker said. "All of them, in different ways, taught me about the way you approach goverment to reach a consensus and I hope to use the lessons they've taught me."

Townsend, who thanked everyone including her two primary opponents, said she will do her best to carry out the oath of office.

"I pledge to do my very best to make the voters of District 1, and indeed all of Wyandotte County, proud of me as I use every fiber of my being to carry out the oath I've just taken," she said.

Walters and Winkler Philbrook knocked off two incumbents on the board and both are new to the political scene. Walters defeated Tom Cooley in District 7, while Winkler Philbrook defeated Butch Ellison in District 8.

Townsend fills the seat left by former commissioner Nathan Barnes, while Walker fills the seat left by John Mendez's retirement.

There will be another commissioner on the board, as the seat vacated by Holland's victory in the mayoral race remains open.

In his address, Holland said filling that seat, looking at the budget for the upcoming year and the re-examining the county "Master Plan" are three immediate items of action for the new government of Wyandotte County.