Parsons city commissioners could appoint someone on Monday to fill the unexpired term of Peter Cook, who resigned on July 1.
During a Thursday work session, Mayor Bill Hogelin suggested that commissioners present nominees for the position during the regular meeting so a decision can be made.
“Personally, I’d like to fill the position as quickly as we can,” Hogelin said.
Commissioners Kevin Cruse and Tom Shaw agreed.
Cook resigned because he took a new job that will require him to be out of town for much of the rest of the year. His term expires in January, which is also when the three top candidates in the Nov. 5 election will take office.
The commissioners had considered letting voters decide in an Aug. 6 primary election for the city commission race who should fill the unexpired term.
Ross Albertini, city attorney, said Thursday that the Labette County clerk’s office informed city officials that a special election for the unexpired term couldn’t be held simultaneously with the primary election, so the city would have to pay for a special election if city commissioners wanted to go that route. Albertini advised against it because of the cost.
“If you guys think that’s the best way to go, it can be done. That’s not a problem,” he said.
The commission wasn’t interested in the special election option after hearing it would cost the city.
Albertini said someone had suggested that a member of the Parsons Planning Commission be appointed, but he wasn’t sure if a planning commissioner also could serve as a city commissioner. He was consulting with an attorney from the Kansas League of Municipalities on the issue but didn’t have a response as of Thursday afternoon.
Cruse brought up his suggestion from an earlier meeting that the commission appoint former Commissioner Dan Goddard, who is a state senator, to the position if he’s interested. Goddard had filled an unexpired term when Commissioner Aaron Keith Stewart resigned. He was chosen then because he finished in fourth place in the most previous election. The top three finishers in city commission races win a term. Goddard also had served two years on the commission prior to being appointed, so he had some experience. Albertini said he could ask Goddard and other possible replacements if they are interested, or individual commissioners could talk to the potential choices.
The commissioners have discussed appointing the fourth-place finisher in the 2017 election, Verlyn Bolinger, to the position, but most think it would give him an unfair advantage in the November election. Bolinger is one of 10 candidates in the commission race this year.
Commissioner Jeff Perez said he still favors giving the term to Bolinger. That would allow the voters to have a voice and give some credibility to the process, he said. Perez disagreed that Bolinger’s appointment would give him an unfair advantage in the election.
“I don’t see that as being an issue,” Perez said.
Shaw disagreed, as Hogelin did during an earlier meeting, although he said Bolinger would be a good selection otherwise.
“To some extent it is an issue because … the incumbency does carry some weight for re-election,” Shaw said.
Shaw has another person in mind to fill the role, one who has a long history of being active and interested in civic affairs and attending city commission meetings and has “a history of heritage of people who have been on this commission in the past.”
“And it wouldn’t in any way swing the election, so I’ve got somebody in mind, but I, you know, can be open-minded,” Shaw said.
The commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building.
In other business, the commissioners will hear from Breanna Nush, who wants the city to build a splash pad, which typically includes spray nozzles on a concrete pad in a public area where children can play in the water. Nush has started an online petition drive to encourage the city to build a splash pad.
Also during the first public comment session, commission candidate Sontana “Tana” Johnson plans to speak about a water park and splash pad.
On Thursday the commission briefly discussed the idea of a splash pad, which has been brought up at commission meetings off and on for a couple of years. Laura Moore, community development director, has looked into prices and potential locations. The Parsons Recreation Commission had considered adding a splash pad near the Parsons Municipal Swimming Pool. Moore said Thursday a good location would be at the former wading pool in Forest Park. There is plenty of shade there and nearby restrooms. The pool was filled in long ago and is now a flower garden.