During a brief special meeting Tuesday morning, the Garden City Commission chose retired fire investigator Melvin Dale to fill the remainder of former commissioner John Doll's term.
Dale, 71, applied for the position due to an interest in public service and politics. Dale worked for the Garden City police department in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and was a fire investigator for the state of Kansas for 21 years covering southwest Kansas.
In addition to Dale, six other people applied for the city commission.
Randy Grisell, city counselor, said one applicant, Matt Kirchoff, was not eligible to serve on the commission because he lives outside the city.
The remaining five applicants included Troy Unruh, a partner in a local insurance agency; Harold Starr, a retired teacher; Jonathan Galia, chaplain at Tyson Foods; Jesse Waugh, a commercial applicator with Crop Production Services; and Kevin Campbell, an international safety consultant.
Because of the number of quality applicants, Dale said he was surprised to get the appointment.
"I think that's really good, rather than have just one or two. That way commissioners can make the decision they need to pick the right person," Dale said. "I hope that enthusiasm rolls over into the April election to where we have at least five or six people running for the three positions that will be open. Right now, I'm just kind of shocked that I got it."
Dale acknowledged he will have big shoes to fill in replacing Doll, who resigned his seat Jan. 2 to begin his new job in the state Legislature.
"I think John Doll is special person. He's done a lot in the community, not only as a commissioner but also in his activities. He gets out and meets people and he's just a regular good guy and it's going to be hard to fill his shoes," Dale said.
Dale will be sworn in at the Jan. 15 commission meeting. Dale hasn't filed for election yet, but intends to sometime before the Jan. 22 deadline. He said he looks forward to serving the community and helping it grow, and he's looking forward to digging into the agenda for the next meeting when it is released Friday afternoon.
"I hope to contribute to the dialogue and discussion and be part of the team," he said.
Mayor David Crase thanked all the applicants for their interest in the position and encouraged those who weren't appointed to consider filing to run for city commission, reminding them and anyone else who may be interested that there will be three council seats on the ballot.
Before the vote, a couple of applicants addressed the council.
Unruh said he was excited about the opportunity and had already filed to run for city commission whether he was appointed to Doll's seat or not.
"It's exciting to see so many people interested in the community. I believe we have a lot of great things going on in our community. I want to be part of some of the great things that are coming up. I'm looking forward to serving in any way I can," he said.
Kevin Campbell, a Canadian citizen who relocated to Garden City four years ago with his wife and son after his wife was recruited by USD 457, said his family didn't intend to stay here long but now consider western Kansas their home.
"I fell in love with this area. We enjoy it. I own a business that allows me to travel, but I sure love calling this home," he said.
Campbell joked that he was probably the only applicant to carry a green card.
During a conversation late Tuesday, Randy Grisell, the city's legal counsel, said a person must live within the city limits to be eligible to be a city commissioner, but it is unclear if a person must also be a United States citizen. Grisell said he hasn't read anything that prohibits a non-citizen from being on the commission, but he cautioned that he also hasn't done enough research to know for sure.
The commission consists of five members, all of whom are elected at large. Three commission seats are up for election in odd numbered years. The candidates with the two highest vote totals are elected to four-year terms, while the third highest vote getter is elected to a two-year term.
The deadline for people interested in running for city commission this year is Jan. 22. At least three seats will be open, including the one filled by Tuesday's appointment, as well as the positions currently held by Crase and Commissioner Chris Law. Crase is not running for re-election, and Law has not decided if he will run again.
People interested in running for city commission have until noon Jan. 22 to fill out forms and pay a $45 filing fee with the city clerk's office to appear on the April 2 ballot.