Haysville council delays filling seat


By Nancy D. Borst

HAYSVILLE – There was a change in the city’s top elected office at Monday’s Haysville City Council meeting when newly-elected mayor Russ Kessler was officially sworn in to begin his term.
Kessler has been a city council member representing Ward IV and most recently was re-elected to a term that expires in January 2024. He unseated incumbent mayor Bruce Armstrong in last fall’s general election.
Armstrong gaveled the meeting to order and presided through the roll call, invocation, pledge of allegiance and approval of the Dec. 28 minutes. Just as he was about to depart, council president Janet Parton stepped forward to present him a plaque to thank him for his years of service. She noted the plaque had the dates of 2013-2022, but Armstrong actually has served the city longer because he formerly was a council member.
Armstrong thanked the council members with whom he served.
“Without you all, the projects that have been done wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I think we have one of the best staffs of any city out there. We also have, as far as I’m concerned, some of the best city employees – they’ve always thought about what’s best for the city and they’ve made the city what it is. Without our council, staff and our employees, we wouldn’t have a city.”
Armstrong added, “You all made it easy for me.”
City clerk Angie Millspaugh next administered the oath of office to Kessler, who thanked the council, his family, his wife and his pastor for their support. Deputy administrative officer Georgie Carter moved his name placard from his council seat to his new seat at the head of the table.
Millspaugh then administered the oath of office to re-elected council members Danny Walters, Dan Benner (joining via telephone) and Steve Crum. Pat Ewert, who also was re-elected, was absent.
The council selected Bob Rardin as council president for 2022. Rardin volunteered and was chosen by acclamation. The agenda called for appointment of a new Ward IV council member to fill Kessler’s unexpired term. Four people applied. Three were present and each spoke briefly. They are Dennis “D.J.” Barkley, Justin Bruster and Timothy Houser. Jodee Dalton, the other applicant, was not present.
Barkley and Bruster are Haysville natives, while Houser has lived in the city for 12 years. Barkley said he was interested in having a say in what happens in the city and would like to move the community forward. Bruster said he thinks children lack pride in the city and would like to see more done to let students know they matter and have a place here. Houser is the administrator of Haysville Happenings on Facebook.
The council asked each if he would run for re-election if chosen. Barkley and Bruster said yes; Houser said he was unsure.
Council members expressed concern that they had not had much time to consider the candidates. City ordinance requires the council to fill a vacant position within 30 days of it becoming vacant. Chief administrative officer Will Black said that meant either a decision had to be made during this meeting or a special meeting had to be called at a later date. The next regularly scheduled city meeting is Feb. 14.
“This is an important position. I don’t want to rush it,” said Crum.
Walters moved to table the selection of a new council member until a special meeting on Feb. 7. Council members voted 4-2 in favor of the motion. The candidates were invited to come back to that special meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Approved renewal of a refuse haulers license for Waste Connections, Wichita.
• Approved appointment of the following positions: Terry Beall, municipal judge; Josh Pollak, city attorney; Denise Donnelly-Mills, city prosecutor; Will Black, chief administrative officer; Georgie Carter, deputy administrative officer; Angie Millspaugh, city clerk/treasurer; Jeff Whitfield, chief of police; Tony Martinez, public works director; Rob Arneson, recreation director.
• Approved paying the city’s January bills.
• Approve a temporary special use permit for consumption of alcoholic beverages for a private birthday party at the community center.
City offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 17, for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.