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City of Hays

Citizens who recognize and exercise their civic duty will be going to the polls Tuesday, unless they've already voted in advance. The spring election is to elect leaders to help guide municipalities and school districts. Continuing a long-standing tradition, we offer the following observations and endorsements as a public service:

Rare is the election when one candidate or another isn't clamoring to change the status quo. Hays residents, however, have the privilege of experiencing a city government that operates efficiently, intelligently and responsively. The cohesive approach forged between commissioners and staff allows projects to be addressed -- and paid with cash.

Two candidates vying for the three available seats on the Hays City Commission are sitting commissioners.

Ron Mellick, a self-employed floor-covering installer and "man of the people," has earned the right to continue serving. A tremendous promoter of the pay-as-you-go financing philosophy, Mellick understands prioritizing needs and how to turn down impulse wants.

"We can do about anything if we plan for it and we budget for it," he said.

That logic for two terms has helped solidify the city's financial future.

Eber Phelps is filling the unexpired term of Barbara Wasinger, although he previously served on the commission during the 1990s. In between, the sales engineer for Glassman Corp. served honorably in the Kansas House of Representatives until last fall's purge of moderates. Phelps is a statesman, capable of balancing competing interests and devising sensible solutions.

In addition to his vast knowledge of water issues, Phelps is keenly aware of what both the county is trying to accomplish as well as the school district. And he's all-too-familiar with what Topeka plans to throw at Hays and other cities.

"Less and less money will be coming to the municipalities, so we have to tread cautiously," he said.

Phelps has the experience and know-how to ensure Hays maintains its solid footing.

Of the three political newcomers, we appreciate both Todd Gabel's financial acumen and Dominic Pianalto's insistence a new convention center should be built only if approved by voters.

But overall, we are most impressed with Shaun Musil. The 40-year-old warehouse supervisor at Coca-Cola Bottling has displayed the enthusiasm and listening skills necessary to serve the people of Hays well. His voice would complement the other four perfectly.

The two candidates who receive the most votes Tuesday will receive four-year terms, and the third place vote-getter will receive a two-year term.

We believe the best three options would be Mellick, Musil and Phelps.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net