Be kind to next administrator

Contributing writer

This upcoming weekend will mark the eight-year anniversary since my wife, daughter, and I first visited Marion. Leading up to our inaugural weekend in Kansas, I received a number of emails from a member of the pastor search committee telling me that Marion was a lot different compared to Los Angeles and also telling me all the good things that Marion had to offer.

As many of you know, we visited Marion and quickly came to love this community. The eighth anniversary of my first visit coincides with the announcement from Doug Kjellin that he is going to resign from the city administrator position to pursue private business opportunities. Doug is a friend and I thank him for his service to our community and wish him well.

As a community, we now find ourselves in the position to hire a new city administrator. The right person is out there and I believe he or she will be a good fit for the direction that the community can head given the right leadership.

I am writing this column with hope that we treat the next city administrator in a manner that conveys respect and trust. In the years I have lived in this town the paper, city council members, and members of the community have treated our city administrators in ways that make me wonder why these two men would stay in the job another day longer.

I am all for truth telling and honesty. One of my favorite authors coined the phrase, “Speak the truth in love.” We will be wise to treat this next city administrator in a way that allows them to do their job to the best of their ability.

Will he or she occasionally make unpopular decisions? Definitely. Will they make mistakes? As long as we are hiring someone from the human race we can be assured they will.

How will we respond when a decision is unpopular or a mistake is made? Will we steam roll him or her at city council meetings, will we tear them apart in editorials or letters to the editor, will we speak degradingly about them at our various coffee bunches?

Or will we communicate personally, civilly and directly with the city administrator to address our concerns. I believe we have to do the latter to establish a new paradigm in our community. A paradigm where people are more than their titles, as I wrote about last time, where people are not viewed only as their professional decisions, where the city council, city administrator, and city employees realize that that they are all working toward common goals and not against each other.

Am I being naïve believing this can happen? I hope not. I hope that whoever the next city administrator is, it is someone that I don’t find myself wondering how they are staying in that job. Let us agree that the next person hired will not become a lightning rod for our frustrations, anxieties, and negative attacks. Let us agree that the next city administrator will be encouraged by all of us to do the best job he or she can do for our town.

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