County vacancy draws interest



August 9, 2018 - 10:46 AM

Allen County’s former long-time public works director and two city council members have announced their desire to fill the remaining two years of Tom Williams’ term on the Allen County Commission.
Bill King, who served as public works director for the county for 23 years before retiring in 2015, told the Register he was seeking the seat.
Also expressing interest were Iola City Council member Ronald Ballard and LaHarpe City Councilman David Lee.
Williams, in the middle of his second term as a commissioner, is resigning Aug. 17 to join the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, where he will investigate fraud and abuse cases in the state, particularly those in which senior citizens have been victimized.
Republican precinct committee members from Commission District 2 — Williams’ service area — will gather at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss and ultimately recommend a replacement.
The meeting will be in the Allen County Courthouse basement meeting room. The public is invited.

KING SAID his experience as an administrator within the county gave him a bird’s eye view of county operations, knowledge he considers invaluable for a commissioner.
As public works director, King was responsible for upkeep of the county’s 900-plus miles of roads. His administrative knowledge would prove invaluable, he said, should he be picked.
“I’ve worked with a lot of great people and a lot of great commissioners,” King said. “I think I’m definitely qualified, and can serve the county.”
His duties also meant working closely with a number of state and federal agencies, such as the state transportation, wildlife and health departments, as well as with such groups  as FEMA and EPA on the federal side.
King told the Register he had been asked about filling the vacancy in the days after Williams’ announcement. He initially was reluctant to do so.
“It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do,” he said.
But he relented after hearing from several encouraging him to throw his hat in the ring.
“I think I can add a lot to the Commission,” he said.

BALLARD, who was elected to the Iola City Council last fall and was sworn into office in April, previously ran against Williams in 2016 for the County Commission seat.
He pointed to county spending policies as his primary concern.
“We need to think about 20, 30, 50 years in the future when we’re spending money,” he said.
Ballard is a former paramedic with the Iola Fire Department. Today, he runs a lawn care service.
Ballard said his campaign for the county seat two years ago prompted him to seek consideration once again.
Had Ballard prevailed then, “this would have been the last two years of my term,” he noted.

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