Hays city commissioners looked for experience in filling a vacant seat at their table, selecting former city commissioner Ron Mellick to finish Chris Dinkel’s term.
Dinkel, who was elected in November to a two-year term, resigned June 20. He will be attending Columbia Law School in New York City in the fall.
Mellick served eight years on the commission from 2007 to 2015, serving as mayor in 2010.
He chose not to run for re-election after his second term. In a February 2015 interview with The Hays Daily News, Mellick said he believed in term limits, but left an opening for a return.
“I don’t think somebody should be on there forever,” he told The HDN in 2015. “I think you need to step off, take a look at things. That doesn’t mean you can’t come back. I’m pretty adamant about that.”
Commissioners said there were three people who expressed interest in the position, although they did not name the other individuals. While all were qualified candidates, they said, experience on the commission was important at this time.
“The next 18 months we will complete and begin $100 million in infrastructure projects,” said Vice Mayor Henry Schwaller, who made the motion to nominate Mellick.
In May, the commission approved $400,000 for engineering services for roundabouts on north Vine Street to address traffic concerns. Since then, a proposed a temporary roundabout at 27th and Canterbury migrated to 27th and Indian Trail.
“Given the enormity of the size of decision we’re going to be making, the four of us, we need a fifth who’s been here,” Schwaller said.
Schwaller had praise for Mellick, who was not present at the meeting.
“I first served with Ron in 2009,” Schwaller said. “I did not know him very well. I didn’t like him. I do now.
“He’s an amazing commissioner. He asks the right questions. He’s very flexible. He listens to others, he has some strong opinions from time to time,” Schwaller said.
Commissioner Shaun Musil said he learned much from Mellick when he took office in 2013. He also said he had once been in the shoes of the other two candidates before he first ran for commission. He said he had sought appointment in 2012 after Barbara Wasinger was elected to the Ellis County Commission. Eber Phelps, who had previously served on city commission and is now a state representative, was selected to finish Wasinger’s term.
“I was very disappointed at the time, but I also went to a meeting after that. I learned a lot,” he said.
He and Jacobs encouraged the other candidates to run for commission in the future.
“To step forward and put your name out … it’s a difficult thing,” Jacobs said. “I encourage everyone to run. All of you that came forward, please put your name on the ballot,” she said.