Thursday, July 11, 2013

"State of no decision': Commissioners, mayor remain gridlocked on open seat


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- The waiting game to fill the open Unified Government At-Large District 1 seat will continue until at least the next commission meeting.

Another 5-5 vote was cast at Thursday night's meeting, with UG Mayor/CEO Mark Holland casting the fifth vote for Nathan Barnes after five commissioners voted for Don Budd Jr.

Commissioners Ann Murguia, Mike Kane, Angela Markley, Jim Walters and Hal Walker voted for Don Budd Jr. Commissioners Jane Philbrook, Tarence Maddox, Gayle Townsend, Brian McKiernan and UG Mayor/CEO Mark Holland voted for Nathan Barnes.

The ballot was the only vote of the night. Following the vote - the fourth overall going back to the last meeting - different commissioners chimed in with solutions to the mess.

Holland recommended dipping back into the pool of 18 candidates. Commissioner Mike Kane quickly disagreed with the idea.

"We set these guidelines," Kane said. "There were 18 candidates. It's not my fault about the two candidates that got through. It's wrong to change the process."

Newcomer Gayle Townsend offered three suggestions: a special election, leaving the seat open until the next scheduled election or conducting a coin-flip to determine the new commissioner.

"We have reached an impasse," she said. "We could sit here and vote forever."

Hal Walker, also a newcomer to the board, recommended leaving the seat open.

"I don't want this distraction hanging over us," Walker said. "This is far from the most important issue we face. I have no trouble going along with nine commissioners."

"We have to be realistic and we have to move on."

Jim Walters and Kane called on Holland and fellow commissioners to cast the sixth vote for Budd.

"We have taken four votes on this matter," Walters said. "Each time, the commission has voted for Don Budd. It's clear that Don Budd is the choice among the commissioners by a majority vote."

Holland voiced his opposition against leaving the seat open.

"We were given a clear responsibility to fill the at-large seat," Holland said. "We can't just leave it open."

Holland said if similar 5-4 vote circumstances occurred - most notably during the budget session - it wouldn't be possible to leave those items open.

In his closing remarks of the night, Kane criticized Holland and said the process would end if he just voted for Budd.

"You should step up and vote for Don and we can go," Kane said.

Commissioners were more unified in opposition of Holland's plan of re-opening the process to more candidates, voting 7-2 against his motion.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after the vote.

"We're at a state of no decision," Holland said.