To The Sun:
I have a question that is bothering me about the upcoming Parsons City Commission election in November. If anyone has an answer, please share it with me. Two of the candidates appear to have a conflict of interest issue when it comes to being on the city commission.
Jonna Gabbert, who seems like a very nice and caring person, is married to a police officer who works for Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks. So any business before the commission relating to the police department would cause her to recuse and not vote on it and not comment on it. For example, pay raises, equipment purchases or even the hiring of personnel could never include Mrs. Gabbert in the discussion and vote. Her hands would be tied. So that would only give us four city commissioners to handle anything police-related.
Eric Strait, another city commission candidate, is long-time manager of Taco Mayo in Parsons. Mr. Strait’s boss, the owner of the business, is Michele Zaleski. She is married to city of Parsons Economic Development Director Jim Zaleski. Mr. Zaleski also controls tourism, abatements tied to the Neighbor Revitalization Program and industry, works with Great Plains Industrial Park and is generally in charge of growth in the city.
Would Mr. Strait have to recuse himself from all things that pertain to Mr. Zaleski’s job that come before the commission? If so, then the city commission is down to four commissioners to discuss and vote on these issues.
I think we need five city commissioners for all our city needs. I hope Mrs. Gabbert and Mr. Strait will let citizens know how they plan to handle these possible conflicts of interest before the election. That would be great. — VICKI PRIBBLE, Parsons