There are three seats up for election on the commission this year. Here's a quick introduction to who will be on the ballot. Fernando Rodriguez-Infante and Manny Ortiz are also running. Election Day is Nov. 5 and early voting is open now.

Lindsay Byrnes

Profession: Internal Medicine and Pediatric Physician

Why are you running for this seat?

I enjoyed my first term as a commissioner and believe that I can continue to positively contribute to the city. I think that serving in local government is the most direct way to affect change that people really feel.

What kind of experience do you have that uniquely prepares you for this position?

I have learned that this position requires a lot of research, quick analyzation and collaborative planning. That skillset is the same that I practice in my job as a physician and in which I am adept. I have served on nonprofit and leadership boards and have gained governance skills while serving on the commission.

If elected, what would be your key priorities on the commission?


I will help shape a design concept and a funding plan for a new pool that is sustainable, both environmentally and financially.
I will advocate for programs that benefit working families and believe the city, as an organization, should lead in demonstrating those programs, such as paid family leave.
I will continue to support the Downtown Development Fund and advocate for more use of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program to further rehabilitate our community.

How would you consider and engage constituents when making decisions on the commission?

I appreciate direct communication and encourage constituents to contact me or speak with me at a meeting. Listening to another’s view forces me to further examine the issue and informs my position. I think it is the job of the commission to foster participation in the CIP process and our advisory boards.

If elected, how would you address the housing and child care shortage in our community?

Housing: While we have had some success with Rural Housing Incentive Districts (RHID) incentives for developers, we still need to implement a variety of strategies targeted specifically at affordable housing. I think we should consider local government-funded methods, such a shared equity homeownership program aimed at buyers.

Child care: I am absolutely committed to following through with the Finney County Childcare and Early Learning Network. This will not immediately remedy our severe need for quality, affordable child care, but it is a good model from which to build. I strongly believe that government has a responsibility to fund and regulate child care in the same manner that we treat schools and that employers would benefit greatly in productivity, retention and recruitment of employees if more child care options were available. I am hopeful that a public-private partnership as proposed by the Network will be successful.

 

Roy Cessna

Profession: Public Information Coordinator for USD 457

Why are you running for this seat?

I am passionate and excited about the future of our community. I have lived in Garden City for over 16 years with my family. I can’t think of a better community to call home and look forward to the opportunity to serve again.

What kind of experience do you have that uniquely prepares you for this position?

I am serving my second term as a city commissioner. I also currently chair the annual Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Awards Committee and the Garden City High School Hall of Fame Committee, coordinate the Garden City Public Schools Foundation, and have been a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador for over 20 years.

If elected, what would be your key priorities on the commission?

It is important that we complete the voter-approved sales tax initiatives, including improvements to the zoo and Jennie Barker Road and a new fire station and indoor gun range. As commissioners, we must work hard to enhance our community.

I feel we must continue to encourage new development initiatives that solidify Garden City as the regional hub of western Kansas. That includes retaining and recruiting new businesses and workers and supporting businesses and industries, such as the agriculture industry, that have been here for years. I feel that the expansion of Garden City Regional Airport is key to that economic growth.

How would you consider and engage constituents when making decisions on the commission?

I would continue to listen to and encourage citizens to serve on the city’s advisory boards, as well as use input from the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which engages community members in decisions regarding major city purchases and projects. I encourage citizens to attend the town hall meetings and enjoy taking phone calls, emails and letters from community patrons.

If elected, how would you address the housing and child care shortage in our community?

The lack of affordable housing is an issue that requires collaboration between the private and public sectors. I am not sure there is an easy fix or a simple answer, but I know we have great community leaders and business professionals who are exploring options. Tools like the Community Housing Assessment can help guide us when making decisions.

I am excited about the new Child Care Network and believe it will help address our child care shortage. This is a great example of how the private and public sectors have worked together to address a community need. By working with local and state officials, I hope we can continue to make positive changes in this area.

 

Liset Cruz

Profession: Contracted Emergency Department Registered Nurse at the University of Kansas Health System Extension Campus

Why are you running for this seat?

Our residents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet. More work hours means less time to raise your children. One of my goals is to have fiscal responsibility and to grow our community without additional financial burden to our working families.

What kind of experience do you have that uniquely prepares you for this position?

I have been in healthcare for the last 14 years, became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2010, a Registered Nurse in 2013 and recently graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing from Tabor College. I have been a single parent for the last 10 years to a son who will soon turn 17. Throughout my nursing career, I have cared and advocated for people of all aspects of life, socioeconomic status and ethnicities, from the unborn to the dying.

If elected, what would be your key priorities on the commission?

Construction of affordable housing, increase home child care, decrease crime, increase the workforce with higher paying jobs, increase recycling, increase green space and walking/bike trails south of Kansas Avenue.

How would you consider and engage constituents when making decisions on the commission?

As a bilingual candidate, I can reach out to both English- and Spanish-speaking constituents. I will recommend increasing public communication through social media including reports, public meeting times for advisory boards, and gathering input through online surveys. Advisory boards should proactively engage more members, rather than asking the commission to decrease their sizes.

If elected, how would you address the housing and child care shortage in Garden City?

Child care is extremely important in our community and affordability is a must. I will support implementing incentives for home child care, such as license reimbursement and mock home child care licensing inspections. Increasing our home daycares will give parents opportunities to join our workforce and/or enhance their education.

I will continue to support the Rural Housing Incentive District program. Focusing on the 2020 census is also essential — out-of-town developers use it as their primary data source. Although the city might waive some construction fees, most development costs come from the constructor. I will listen to our local constructors’ concerns and feedback regarding the construction of affordable housing. As a homeowner at age 20, housing affordability, especially for young professionals, working families, single parents and the elderly, is a must. A house is a place we call home and home is Garden City.

 

Shannon Dick

Profession: Strategic analyst

Why are you running for this seat?

I believe that Garden City is headed in the right direction. We are an amazing community, not because of the industry, stores, or restaurants we have, but because of the people that choose to live here. Our community embodies the “can do” attitude. I want to ensure that our community keeps being successful when so many others have not.

What kind of experience do you have that uniquely prepares you for this position?

As a current commissioner, I am prepared to continue serving on the board. But I am also very involved in the community. I run the "Garden City Journal" Facebook page, attend community and regional meetings, sit on committees like the Resource Development Committee for the Finney County Workforce Connection, have served on the boards of directors for many organizations and have participated in focus groups regarding early childhood and the juvenile justice system.

Finally, I have a bachelors and master’s degree in statistics from Kansas State University, so my first thought is to look at the evidence and data when making decisions.

If elected, what would be your key priorities on the commission?

My priority is to keep Garden City moving forward. Finney County has grown to be an economic powerhouse (1,400+ jobs over the last five years), a land of opportunity (in the top third in the USA for upward mobility), and a retail hub ( total trade area is over 500,000 people), all while keeping the city’s mill levy essentially flat. We need to keep using the available tools and view our diversity as a strength, not an obstacle.

How would you consider and engage constituents when making decisions on the commission?

I am always open to talk with community members from direct emails, to meetings I attend, to the produce section of Dillon's. I want to hear what is going well in Garden City and what can be improved. Community members can also get involved by attending city commission meetings, town hall meetings, joining the Citizens Academy or the CIP committee, or serving on an advisory board.

If elected, how would you address the housing and child care shortage in our community?

The Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) has been a very useful program to build certain housing developments. Also, I personally would like to see builders and developers take advantage of Planned Unit Developments (PUD), which allows for housing options that are "outside the box" and help overcome some obstacles in a typical housing development.

As for child care, many barriers are at the state level, so as a commissioner, I would advocate for change and a more streamlined state process. Locally, we should support organizations like Community Day Care and our home care providers. I am encouraged with the progress that Finney County Childcare and Early Learning Network has made.

 

Deborah (Deb) Oyler

Profession: Executive Director, Finney County United Way

Why are you running for this seat?

Garden City has given me so much. My husband is from Finney County. This is where I purchased my first home, watched my children go to school, worked at jobs I love. Running is my way of giving back to this community that I’ve called home for 20 years. Serving as a city commissioner would be a privilege.

What kind of experience do you have that uniquely prepares you for this position?

I have worked in the non-profit sector for over 30 years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about being an advocate, working within a tight budget, growing a program incrementally and solving difficult problems. The boards I sit on have taught me about governance, city budgets, and incentives for new and existing businesses. I am a proud graduate of Leadership Garden City and a past Chamber ambassador. I’ve attended many city commission meetings and last year took part in the city’s CIP process.

If elected, what would be your key priorities on the commission?

There are two things that are priorities for me: child care and affordable housing (see below).

How would you consider and engage constituents when making decisions on the commission?

I don’t like to make decisions without doing my research and that means engaging constituents at every level. I believe in meeting people where they are, visiting with them one-on-one to learn about their beliefs, opinions, and thoughts. That means making myself visible and engaging constituents at community events or other public venues.

If elected, how would you address the housing and child care shortage in our community?

Housing: It’s imperative that we continue to evaluate housing opportunities. If the predicted population scenarios play out, the gap between what’s available and what’s needed will only grow. New construction can be expensive, so we need to look at programs that will keep costs low and make construction profitable for contractors. The solution is out there and it’s going to involve brainstorming and working together with public and private partners.

Child care: Again, it’s brainstorming and working with public and private entities to find results. With over 700 open child care slots, we need to put the infrastructure in place to fix this problem because the lack of child care has a direct impact on our workforce today and in the future. I think the Finney County Childcare and Early Learning network is a great solution and one that will tackle this multi-dimensional problem.