New Mayor Mark Holland certainly has his work cut out in Wyandotte County.
Holland took the right stand, but he made few friends by criticizing the two finalists for an open Unified Government commission seat because both have been associated with businesses that were tax delinquent in recent years.
Unpaid taxes cost the Unified Government $18 million a year, Holland said. With interest and penalties, the outstanding amount is $33 million.
“I heard repeatedly in the campaign that taxes in Wyandotte County our the number one issue,” he said, adding that people who wanted to be seated on the commission should “take the initiative to make sure that any properties with their name on them are paid in full.”
He’s right, but that stand put Holland on the wrong side of supporters for both developers Don Budd and former long-time Commissioner Nathan Barnes.
One of Budd’s allies, Commissioner Mike Kane, accused Holland publicly of being on a witch hunt.
Holland, who is allied with former Mayors Joe Reardon and Carol Marinovich and others who place a premium on clean government, was unlikely to get along well with Budd under any circumstances. The developer is a power broker with a long history of co-opting politicians to ease the way for his real estate dealings. But the new mayor can ill afford to alienate his black constituents, some of whom are loyal toward Barnes.
Three votes Thursday night ended in a 5-5 tie. The meeting adjourned with no resolution on the vacant seat, and a lot of hard feelings. To succeed as mayor, Holland is going to have to cobble together an alliance of at least five members of the commission, which will have 10 members plus Holland when the vacancy is filled. Right now that looks like a challenge. Only Commissioners Brian McKiernan and Jane Winkler Philbrook seemed to be on the same page as the mayor on Thursday.