It’s anyone’s guess how the deadlock to fill new Mayor Mark Holland’s vacant seat will be resolved Thursday by the Board of Commissioners of Wyandotte County’s Unified Government.
Unless the commission moves to reopen the process, it’s possible the evening will end as wearisome as the last effort. There are no rules to guide at this point, nothing in the charter or ordinances.
Enough behind-the-scenes arm-twisting might have occurred since the last vote three weeks ago to shift at least one commissioner, breaking the 5-5 tie between developer Don Budd Jr. and former commission member Nathan Barnes.
Budd says he hasn’t been pressing the sitting commissioners. Barnes couldn’t be reached for comment.
Either way, the situation needs to be resolved, preferably with a choice that won’t set the commission up for failure by creating factions that will consistently hamper progress for the county. This has already dragged on too long. A miscounting of votes and the discovery that the two finalists had unpaid back taxes caused avoidable tension.
Repeated rounds of voting have tied at five votes each, with Holland casting the last vote for Barnes. The winning candidate needs six votes to fill Holland’s at-large seat.
And neither candidate dramatically shines.
Budd offers a plethora of possible conflicts due to his business interests. He said he’d take things case by case in that regard, if chosen.
Barnes has already served for 18 years on the commission. So residents can rightly feel that choosing him will be a retread. That said, he came in third for mayor behind Holland and Commissioner Ann Murguia, so an argument could be made that he has the backing of many residents. And, he’s viewed as less contentious than Budd.
Wyandotte County has been here before.
In 1995, after Carol Marinovich was elected mayor of Kansas City, Kan., three weeks passed and three split votes occurred when the pre-Unified Government council tried to fill her vacant seat. Marinovich stepped up, changing her vote to end the impasse.
Don’t expect the new mayor to save the day this time. When Marinovich changed her vote, the rest of the council followed, uniting to choose businessman Bill Miller unanimously.
This go-round, the dynamics are far different, the splits far more entrenched.