Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vacant seat on UG board likely to remain open until April's election


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- For over a year, there's been a vacancy on the Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

It's likely the vacancy will remain until the April election when voters would choose the replacement themselves.

Last year, after initially voting on 18 candidates who filed to fill Unified Government Mayor/CEO Mark Holland's commissioner's seat, the board's process narrowed the field down to two candidates - Nathan Barnes and Don Budd.

Numerous votes ended up in a 5-5 deadlock between Barnes and Budd.

On Thursday, Holland recommended to set aside Barnes and Budd's names to restart the process on the 15 remaining candidates in the pool:
  • Rev. Jimmie L. Banks
  • David Block
  • Melissa A. Bynum
  • Jarvis L. Collier
  • Christina D.Grey
  • Harold L. Johnson, Jr.
  • Veronica I. Knight
  • Kelly Kultala
  • Robert L. Mathews
  • Robert L. Milan, Jr.
  • LaVert Murray
  • Pamela J. Penn-Hicks
  • Joseph P. Ward
  • Tommy E. Wilson, Jr.
  • Janice Witt
However, the motion failed to receive the necessary six votes.

Commissioners Jane Philbrook, Brian McKiernan, Gayle Townsend and Hal Walker voted yes. Commissioners Ann Murguia, Tarence Maddox, Jim Walters and Angela Markley voted no.

Holland's fifth "yes" vote was not enough for the motion to pass. After its failure, Holland it was not his intent to address the vacancy before April's election.

Missing from the vote was Commissioner Mike Kane, who's absense seemed to be a surprising development for a few of the comissioners. Kane's absence was why Murguia voted not, she said.

"The reason I'm voting no is all the commissioners are not present," Murguia said, adding that all commissioners should be in attendance to discuss the vacancy.

Markley said she voted "no" because she felt the most vocal constituents who expressed concern about the vacant seat supported Budd or Barnes.

"Some of the most vocal constituents were not interested in throwing out the two candidates' names," she said.

Walker was in favor of reopening the pool of candidates. He said the votes last summer made it clear that the board would be deadlocked if they voted between Barnes and Budd again.

"There are 12 good candidates," Walker said. "I think there were three or four who were a little better. We are not going to agree with Barnes and Budd. The vote would be 5 to 5. It's time to pick someone or move on."

Townsend, like last summer, suggested a coin flip to determine between Barnes and Budd. She said one of the candidates was interested in the flip.

However, she also said the commission has "not missed a beat" even with the vacant position.

It's likely the board will have to continue not missing the beat until April's election.