New job comes quickly
New city, big raise for administrator
It didn’t take Brogan Jones long to find a new job — one with a big raise and more responsibility — after resigning under fire Nov. 15 as Marion’s city administrator.
Jones was announced Thursday as the new city administrator for Neodesha, a slightly larger city of 2,275 that serves as a regional manufacturing center in southeastern Kansas.
The Neodesha job pays $90,000 a year, $15,000 a year more than what he was paid in Marion.
Jones will start Jan. 15, three days after his final date with Marion.
In announcing Jones’s appointment, Neodesha Mayor Devin Johnson said Jones had endured “trial by fire” in Marion.
“He is young, but he has a lot of experience, we felt like, with what he brings to the table,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he and his fellow commissioners were impressed that Jones was “community-minded, reaching out and speaking to citizens directly.”
Johnson said Jones indicated he would “get a feel for what the community wants and needs.”
Jones will replace an interim administrator — recently retired Emporia city manager Mark McAnarney, who had been filling in since September after the resignation of Eddy Truelove.
In August, after 8½ years in Neodesha, Truelove signed a two-year contract to become city administrator in Lyons, where Jones had worked as a building and zoning inspector before receiving a master’s degree in public administration and coming to Marion.
Before that, Truelove had been police chief in Sterling, Jones’s hometown.
Neodesha operates with a mayor and two commissioners, as Marion did before switching 20 years ago to a unique hybrid of two legislatively endorsed forms of government featuring a mayor and four council members.
Under city code in Neodesha, the city administrator has far more power than does the city administrator in Marion.
In Neodesha, the administrator appoints the police chief, fire chief, city clerk, assistant city clerk, treasurer, electric superintendent, water and wastewater director, and public works director with advice and consent from the commission.
In Marion, the mayor possesses exclusive power to nominate for most of those positions.
In Neodesha, the administrator has supervisory authority over all city employees and prepares the city’s budget for approval by commissioners.
Neodesha’s mayor, unlike Marion’s mayor, has no specific authority other than to preside over commission meetings.
Neither Johnson nor Neodesha city committee man J.D. Moffatt returned calls seeking comment, but the Record did get calls from Neodesha residents concerned about Jones after reading that he was appointed Neodesha administrator.
Jones quit in Marion after being sharply criticized at a council meeting Nov. 13 for following Mayor David Mayfield’s instructions and forwarding to Mayfield messages Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel had sent Jones.
Herbel contended that Jones forwarded to the entire council, without telling her, confidential messages she had sent regarding whether an unresolved drunken driving conviction might impact a liquor license application by restaurant owner Kari Newell.
Documents obtained under the Kansas Open Records Act indicate Jones forwarded the messages on specific orders from Mayfield.
Herbel contends Jones denied forwarding them, but Jones contends he denied forwarding them to anyone outside the council.
Sharing of the information in Herbel’s message to Jones was what set off the later disavowed police raids Aug. 11 on the Marion County Record newsroom and the homes of Herbel and the Record’s owners.
The morning after Herbel, who rarely swears, accused Jones of being “a damned liar” and no one on the council spoke up to defend him, Jones drafted a resignation letter and hand-delivered it to council members.
Staff writer Phyllis Zorn contributed to this story.