Garden City Commissioners elected a new mayor during the City Commission meeting on Monday. Troy Unruh was selected to serve as chair of the board and will assume the duties and title of mayor. In addition, Mayor Dan Fankhauser and Lindsay Byrnes stepped down as commissioners, while Deborah Oyler and Manuel Ortiz were sworn in.
Unruh said he wants to accomplish three items while in office. His goals are to energize people, encourage neighborhoods to work together and engage the community.
“We have a very generous community,” Unruh said. “Garden City is not only a leader in western Kanas but a leader in Kansas.”
Unruh, who moved to Garden City as a child from Chase, delivered papers in his youth. He remembers the city’s ad campaign, “Just Plain Success,” from back then, and he thinks that campaign still applies. Unruh said Finney County was the fifth largest county in job growth last year.
“Small businesses really matter,” he said. “We need to support businesses no matter their size.”
During Monday’s meeting, Roy Cessna was elected as vice-chairperson. The City Commissioners proclaimed Jan. 13 as Lindsay Byrnes Day and Jan. 14 as Dan Fankhauser Day.
Fankhauser said the hardest decisions made during his tenure were the change from Wheatland Electric to KMEA: Kansas Municipal Energy Agency and the decision of what to do with the Big Pool.
“I think being a commissioner for the past nine years has been one of the best experiences in my life,” Fankhauser said. “I have a new respect for this city and how it is run. Let’s continue to make Garden City the regional center of western Kansas.”
Byrnes, who continues to work as the Medical Director for Finney County Health Department and as a hospitalist at several hospitals in Wichita, agreed with Fankhauser that the Big Pool decision was a vital one. She also said childcare was an ongoing and crucial topic for the city.
“We’ve taken some big strides in child care,” she said.
The two new commissioners want to keep up the increase in affordable housing as well. For both Oyler and Ortiz, affordable housing in Garden City is a high priority.
“My goal is in making sure that we expand affordable housing and childcare so that people who come here to work have a place to live and are able to afford child care,” said Oyler, who is the executive director of Finney County United Way.
Ortiz, who works for an architecture firm, said housing that is affordable is important for the city. Along with housing, Ortiz said he wants to educate the people about Garden City and the benefits of living here.
“I want to keep it exciting; keep it interesting,” Ortiz said. “I want to keep Garden City great.”
Regularly scheduled meetings are held at 1 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the City Administrative Center.