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Wasinger could become first woman on county commission

10/30/2012

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Budget discipline and coordinated efforts between the city of Hays and Ellis County rank high on Barbara Wasinger's priorities.

Currently serving as a Hays city commissioner, Wasinger, a Republican candidate for the Second District seat on the Ellis County Commission, said although she hasn't examined the county budget in detail, she believes cooperative efforts between the city and county could result in savings for taxpayers.

Wasinger faces Democrat Dennis Pfannenstiel in the Nov. 6 election. Glenn Diehl, who has the Second District commission seat, did not file for re-election.

"I know if we try to coordinate city and county services, we can probably save some significant dollars there," Wasinger said in a phone interview last week. "I didn't say consolidate. ... That's a very dirty word. ... I said 'coordinate.'

"I think that would be a big help."

Wasinger's city commission term will end in April. If elected to the Ellis County Commission, she would be the first woman to serve on the commission. She said her eight years of experience in city government and 28 years as owner of Ellis County Abstract & Title LLC could enable her to bring a new perspective to the county commission seat.

Residents of the city of Hays also are Ellis County residents, Wasinger pointed out, and will need to work together for the county to move forward.

"How can you dissect the city out completely?" she said. "And that's an argument, in my eyes, that the city has been completely separated from Ellis County.

"But they are a part of Ellis County, as well."

Working within the city manager/city commission form of local government, Wasinger said she has seen the benefit of a manager overseeing the daily workings of the city.

Having an administrator in place to advance the policies set in motion by the commission also is necessary for county government, Wasinger said. Ellis County created its administrator position two years ago, hiring Greg Sund to serve in the role.

"Someone needs to be overseeing the day-to-day county business," she said. "And I know it's new and a big change for everyone, but I think it's for the best.

"I'm very much for the county administrator. Greg is the first one, so he's had a tough job."

Looking ahead, Wasinger said, Ellis County faces space needs. Funding for those upcoming projects likely could come from a sales tax initiative to be voted upon by taxpayers, she said.

"Rural fire and EMS and the jail are all critical issues that need to be taken care of," she said. "If we own something, we need to take care of it.

"We need to make sure we do what's right. It needs to be put to the voters to decide what we should do."

Should Wasinger be elected, Hays city commissioners will have two or three weeks to appoint a replacement following her taking county office in January, said City Manager Toby Dougherty. In the event the commission cannot come to an agreement on a replacement, the city attorney would make the selection.

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Candidate at a glance

Name: Barbara Wasinger

Education: Graduate of University of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minn.

Political experience: Hays city commissioner for eight years.

Family: Married to Tom Wasinger. They have four children, Matt, Drew, Anne Marie and Mark.