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County Commission selects new chairman

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
County Commissioners Doug Smith and Mike Smith speak with each other during a meeting Wednesday at the Leavenworth County Courthouse. Mike Smith was appointed the new chairman of the County Commission during the meeting.

The Leavenworth County Commission has a new chairman.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to appoint Mike Smith to serve as the chairman for the next year.

Smith is the newest member of the commission. He was elected in November to represent the commission’s 4th District, which includes the city of Lansing and a portion of southeast Leavenworth.

Wednesday marked Smith’s first meeting as a commissioner.

Smith replaces Chad Schimke, who did not seek reelection last year, as the commissioner from the 4th District.

Each January, commissioners select one of their own to serve as chairman.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson made the motion Wednesday to appoint Smith as the chairman. Culbertson said he recommended Smith for the position based on his political experience.

Before joining the County Commission, Smith served as the mayor of Lansing. He also previously served as the chief of police and city administrator in Lansing.

Culbertson’s motion was seconded by Doug Smith, who served as the previous chairman.

Despite having the same last name, Mike Smith and Doug Smith are not related.

The motion to appoint the chairman was approved 4-1 with Commissioner Vicky Kaaz voting against the motion.

Kaaz later said she would like to see a system in place in which commissioners rotate through the position of chairman.

Following the vote, Mike Smith praised the former chairman.

“Doug did a great job,” Mike Smith said.

Wednesday’s meeting began with Schimke participating as a member of the old commission.

Schimke provided farewell comments.

The outgoing commissioner said he had received many questions regarding his decision not to run for another term.

He said the demands of his family and business interests “created a capacity issue for me.”

Schimke said he intends to spend time on local economic development. And he suggested he may run again as his children grow older.

Schimke said he looks forward to working closely with Mike Smith.

“I wish him the very best in his new role,” Schimke said.

The outgoing commissioner encouraged his fellow commissioners to use common sense and respect each other.

He also encouraged commissioners, when forced to make a decision that does not yield optimal results, to vote for “what sucks less.” This is a phrase he has used frequently during his tenure on the commission.

After taking up what is referred to as administrative business and the consent agenda, the old commission adjourned.

Mike Smith was appointed as temporary chairman before commissioners voted to have him serve as chairman for the next year.

Commissioners took various other actions Wednesday as part of an annual reorganization. This included a decision to continue to meet each Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Commissioners also approved a resolution to set the 2021 salaries for the county’s elected officials.

County Clerk Janet Klasinski said a resolution had been prepared based on what previously was approved as part of the county’s 2021 budget. She said the salaries in the resolution reflected a 3.8% raise. She said other county employees also are receiving a 3.8% pay increase this year.

Register of Deeds TerriLois Mashburn, who is new to her position after being elected in November, requested her salary be reduced by $4,800.

Mashburn said she was upset by the size of an earlier raise for her predecessor. She said this is what prompted her to run for the office.

“Now that I hold the position, I have the ability to do something about it,” she said.

Commissioners approved Mashburn’s request and approved the salaries for the other elected officials as they were presented in the resolution.

The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Mike Stieben voting against the motion.

With the $4,800 reduction, the register of deeds’ salary for 2021 will be $86,264.

County Commissioners Vicky Kaaz and Mike Smith speak with former Commissioner Chad Schimke after a meeting Wednesday at the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a special use permit for Tri-Hull Crane Rental, 24838 Loring Road, with various conditions.

The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Vicky Kaaz voting against the motion.

• Appointed Brian Wells to fill a vacancy for the position of Sherman Township Clerk.