Friday, May 3, 2013

UG commissioners determine procedure to fill vacant seat; applicants have from May 3-17 to file


The Unified Government Board of Commissioners took a big step in filling the vacancy on the board Thursday night.

Commissioners unanimously agreed on the procedure they will undergo in filling the UG At-Large seat left vacant by the election of UG Mayor/CEO Mark Holland.

Here are highlights of the process:

- Those interested in filling the seat have from May 3 to May 17 to file to the UG's Board of Clerks. 

- Based on the recommendation of UG Commissioner Hal Walker, all candidates will likely undergo criminal background checks. 

"When you run for election, everything in your past is open up to scrutiny," Walker said. "I just want to make sure our choice is not a determent to our image. I think we're entitled to a vetting process."

Walker also pointed out that officials appointed to positions in the state government undergo background checks from the KBI.  

 - All candidates who file will make a five-minute presentation to the UG Board of Commissioners - and then answer questions from commissioners in an initial ten-minute interview session.

UG Commissioner Brian McKiernan believed that more interview time would be needed.

"I don't know if I'll get enough information that I could thoughtfully cast a vote," he said.

- Under the agreed plan, there will be two separate votes to name the eventual commissioner. 

Commissioner Ann Murguia suggested to treat the process as an election of sorts, which commissioners later agreed on.

She recommended both a "primary" and a "general election" type vote, where the two candidates with the most votes from the first vote move on to the second vote.

"We all get one vote with the idea of the top two moving on," she said.

To satisfy the need of getting more information from potential candidates, commissioners agreed to do a second interview process. The two finalists will be interviewed again by commissioners for 10 more minutes.

The interviews will be held at the end of May.

According to Holland, the interview process could stretch into multiple days if several candidates file for the position.

Holland, in his second meeting as Wyandotte County's Mayor/CEO, said the final goal of the process was to find a candidate who could get eight or 9 votes from the board. 

While the seat was Holland's, he may not have any power in determining who replaces him. The commissioners will vote on the matter and Holland will only cast a vote if the final tally ends up 5-4.