New commissioner selected; Four seats on ballot this fall

The Garden City Commission met with three applicants for an open commission seat during Tuesday’s pre-meeting. Pictured from left are David Crase, Commissioner Lindsey Byrnes, Commissioner Troy Unruh, Linda Adams and Shannon Dick. Dick was later appointed to the seat during the commission’s regular meeting.
By SCOTT AUST/FCEDC Director of Communications

The Garden City Commission appointed Shannon Dick, Finney County Economic Development Strategic Analyst, to the city commission on Tuesday, filling the seat vacated by former Commissioner Melvin Dale who resigned last month.

The appointment means Dick will serve on the commission through the end of this year. The public will elect someone to fill the two years that were left on Dale’s term during municipal elections this November.

“Thank you for considering me and letting me serve my community,” Dick said following the vote. “I look forward to doing what we can do, and I look forward to working with the best staff in Kansas.”

This fall’s elections will be unusually due to having four of the five city commission seats on the ballot. Seats currently held by commissioners Dan Fankhauser, Roy Cessna and Lindsey Byrnes will be on the ballot. Commission Troy Unruh is not up for reelection until 2021.

Typically, three seats are on the ballot every two years and the two candidates who receive the most votes are elected to four year terms while the third place candidate is elected to a two-year term. That format will be the same this year but the fourth place finisher will serve out the remaining two years of Dale’s unexpired term.

In addition to Dick, two other people applied for the vacancy created by Dale’s resignation — Realtor Linda Adams and former city commissioner David Crase.

During Tuesday’s pre-meeting, the three applicants sat down with commissioners to introduce themselves and talk about their visions for the city. Each applicant gave an introductory statement and then answered a couple of general questions.

Adams, a Garden City resident for 29 years, is owner/broker of Adams Real Estate. She is also a private music teacher and has been involved in music related activities in the community for many years. Adams also is a member of the local Board of Realtors and has served on the Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals and participated in the city’s CIP process.

“I love this community. I want only the best for it,” Adams said, adding that she’s been impressed with the work of organizations like Finney County Economic Development.

Adams said one of the issues that is important to her is housing. She said she receives 20 to 25 calls per day from people desperate to find housing, and added that it is an important issue for local employers.

Crase, a fourth generation Finney Countian who previously served on the commission for eight years after retiring from UPS, is pro-growth while also stressing the importance of being prudent with taxpayer dollars.

“I want to see the city continue to progress. That was one of my big goals was to see us be the retail center of southwest Kansas and I think we have more than succeeded at that. We can always continue to improve,” he said. “Anything we can do to enhance the growth of the city and keep progressing.”  

Dick, a third generation Garden City citizen, is a GCHS and GCCC graduate and earned an undergraduate and master’s degrees in statistics from Kansas State University. After living in Tulsa for three years, Dick and his family moved back to Garden City.

Dick serves on the boards of LiveWell Finney County, High Plains Housing Development Corporation and Great Plains MakerSpace. He also participates in the Community Council, Downtown Vision committees and works with Southwest Kansas Problem Gambling Taskforce and other community organizations.

To promote what he felt was lacking in positive news about the community, Dick started the Garden City Journal Facebook page, which has since merged into a community development and promotion effort in a joint venture with GreaterGardenCity.com.

“We need to have the spirit of ‘Garden City can do this.’ And unless we hear that message over and over, people don’t know it,” Dick said.

Dick is a passionate promoter of the community and is an advocate for continued growth.

“I believe we should be growing because if our community isn’t the one doing the growing, there’s two other communities that will readily be the ones that want to grow,” he said. “Right now, we have the initiative, partially because of the course we’ve set in the past with good leadership.”

Housing and childcare are both major issues for Dick, both of which FCEDC has continued to make a priority. Dick is also an advocate for “smart development,” believing that potential prospects should be engaged early on to ensure that they will be good stewards of local resources.

“There’s an implied ‘smart development.’ We don’t need to be doing development for development’s sake. We don’t need to do taxing for taxing’s sake. We could get a lot of fun things like a racetrack or casino, but that doesn’t grow our community. So I think it’s important to encourage development, as long as you do it the right way,” he said.

On other areas that the commission has labeled as goals to work on, Dick said Garden City Regional Airport is one of the biggest assets the community has and is an area the community is excelling at, and he praised the city’s efforts on water resources.

“That’s the thing that’s going to keep us growing, not for now or for 20 years, but we can keep on growing for 100 years,” he said, noting that city staff in the past indicated enough water resources have been secured to continue growth for another century. “I don’t think any other community can say that, and as we get smarter practices we can make it last even longer.”

Commissioner Byrnes asked whether Dick foresees any conflicts arising from his work with economic development. Dick said he does not; however, he plans to consult frequently with the city’s legal staff on a case by case basis to determine if a conflict exists. If so, Dick said he would recuse himself from those issues.

Commissioner Fankhauser said he has had to do the same in similar situations where he couldn’t vote on an issue because he had done some professional work for one of the parties.

“It happens every once in awhile,” Fankhauser said.

Dick was appointed during Tuesday’s regular meeting unanimously after the commission first split 2-2 on a motion to appoint Adams to the seat. Dick will officially take his seat on the commission at the April 2 regular commission meeting.

Cessna thanked all three applicants for expressing interest in the position and said he looks forward to positive things in the future.