By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
She had to wait until the end of the Salina City Commission meeting, but 95-year-old Alice Davis, who traveled from Washington, D.C., got to see her son, Dr. Trent Davis, become mayor of Salina.
Alice was one of a number of family members who waited anxiously throughout the Salina City Commission meeting Monday to see Trent Davis become mayor.
The mayor thanked his family members for being in attendance and for their support.
He also thank the other city commissioners for trusting him “to be the lead target for the next year.”
That flash of humor was peppered throughout Davis’ speech.
The mayor said he hoped his fellow commissioners would remember the sacred commissioners’ oath, “If I stumble during a meeting and there’s an awkward silence, please chip in and don’t let me just hang there.”
He acknowledged that the current city commission got off to what some people would call a bumpy start, but said the commissioners could deliberate any issue that comes up.
“We’ve learned how to disagree without being disagreeable,” he said. “We have different talents. I don’t have to worry about a point being brought up because our personalities are just different enough that we’re all sensitive to certain facets of any project, be it on a social issue, business issue, analyzing. Sometimes you do it from the gut, sometimes you have to analyze it, but not much gets past the five of us as a group, and I really do appreciate that.”
Davis said that in the past year, “we’ve watched our downtown revival, which is really looking pretty good.”
He noted that the commission has conferred certain basic protections for LGBTQ employees.
He said that this commission has done what only one other commission has done in the past 30 years: hire a city manager.
“We went through a very long, exhaustive search. I’m sure we came up with the best person. We’re in good hands for at least the next 15 years,” Davis said.
The mayor said that “sometimes people get worried when we have 3-2 votes, and 3-2 votes aren’t the worst thing in the world. That means that we have enough disagreement that we feel the need to discuss things. 5-0 votes are nice and we feel good about 5-0 votes, but if every vote is 5-0, it really gets kind of boring. It does shorten the meeting, but it gets kind of boring.”
Davis said that “20 years from now, people aren’t going to remember who voted in the three and who voted in the two. The important thing is that we vet the issues and if we have disagreements, that means people in the community have disagreements, so probably everyone’s opinion is being brought forth.”
Davis then listed several major Salina initiatives that were passed on 3-2 votes:
- Getting the Central Mall off the ground
- Getting the BiCenter, now Tony’s Pizza Events Center, off the ground
- Enacting the clean indoor air ordinance, which limited tobacco use in buildings
“That 3-2 led to other cities in the state getting ordinances and we now have a state ordinance because of what started here in Salina on a 3-2 vote,” he said.
Davis said he agreed with outgoing Mayor Karl Ryan that the city has the best employees in the state.
He also said the commissioners were the conduit between the citizens of Salina and the city staff, “so use us!”
Davis said the commissioners do have some projects that they plan to tackle this year, including the Schilling underground water issue, the park master plan, the Smoky Hill River renewal, and reinvesting in housing in the central, north, and west parts of town. He also said that the 2020 census is coming up and people will be needed to help count “every living soul in this city.” Additionally, Davis said that ending wage disparities in Salina compared to other parts of the state also was on the list.
“I’m looking forward to a fun year,” he said.
Prior to being named mayor, Davis was brought before those in attendance for another recognition: his graduation from the University of Kansas Public Management Center’s Kansas Certified Public Manager program.
Davis, who traveled to classes twice a week, was a part of the 25th anniversary class that graduated in November. The 85 graduates, who began their coursework in January 2018, represented local, county, state or federal agencies from across Kansas. They participated in classes held in Topeka, Olathe, and the KU Edwards Campus. (To read the entire SalinaPost.com story about the class from December 23, click here.)
As one of his final duties as mayor, Karl Ryan presented Davis with a plaque in recognition of his completion of the KU program.