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Wasinger ready to make history count

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

When she filed to run for a seat on the Ellis County Commission, Barbara Wasinger didn't realize her election would make history.

Wasinger won November's general election and on Monday will be sworn in as the first woman on the Ellis County Commission. Commissioners will meet at 6:45 p.m. Monday in their regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

"That's pretty exciting. When I filed, I didn't realize it," Wasinger said. "I'm very thankful for all the women who have come before me that have paved the way for me to do something like this."

Wasinger, 54, will represent the Second District, replacing Glenn Diehl, who chose not to run for re-election. Wasinger, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Dennis Pfannenstiel for a seat on the commission.

Wasinger previously was elected to two, four-year terms on the Hays City Commission.

"After eight years, I felt it was time for somebody else to get into city government, get some fresh ideas, fresh blood," Wasinger said. "I was looking for a new challenge, and this popped up. I jumped at it."

Wasinger's sense of giving back to the community led to her running for a position on the city commission eight years ago.

"I've always been very active in volunteering in the community," she said. "I thought of it as another avenue to volunteer.

"Hays has been very good to me and my family. I just felt it was the right thing to do."

Wasinger pointed to the construction of Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex, the comprehensive plan and keeping the budget under control as some of the accomplishments during her stay on the city commission.

"I found I really enjoyed it, enjoyed working with the people at the city, and I enjoyed serving the city," Wasinger said of why she ran for a second term.

Wasinger said her experience on the city commission could serve her well on the county commission.

"I have government experience and budgeting experience, but also I think my relationship with the city might help forge better relationships with the county," Wasinger said.

Ellis County Commissioners last week approved a dedicated 0.5-percent sales tax for improvements in the jail and courthouse and to fund construction of a new EMS/Rural Fire building. The tax will be brought before the voters for their approval.

"It's absolutely needed," Wasinger said. "There's a lot of things that need to be taken care of. It needs to be taken care of, and this is the best route, I believe, to do so."

Since 1867, there have been a total of 97 Ellis County commissioners.

Wasinger will be the 98th commissioner -- and also the first.

"I'm proud to be the first one," Wasinger said of being the first female on the commission. "I'm very fortunate."