Danedri Thompson
It’s high time the Gardner City Council make changes to the way it appoints to the council.
We’re down another one, with the departure of appointed member Brian Broxterman, and the community’s new appointee to the city council appears to have only voted three times in his adult life – or at least in the years he’s lived in Kansas.
Mayor Dave Drovetta appointed James Randall “Randy” Gregorcyk, Jr. to the council last night. The Gardner man has cast ballots in two presidential elections – in 2004 and in 2008 and recently cast a mail-in ballot for the school bond election.
When council member Larry Fotovich asked him why his voting record was so paltry, Gregorcyk essentially said he was busy traveling and adopting a baby.
Not good enough. Appointed officials should be held to an even higher standard than those who stand for election.
You know who else is busy at election time? Almost every person in America.
Voting is not difficult. On Election Day, there are dozens of polling places typically within walking distance of most of Gardner, and advance and absentee voting is easier than it’s ever been.
I’m not asking potential council appointees to be involved in volunteering for community events like the Festival on the Trails. Of course, that’d be nice, or attending city council or school board meetings or better yet, walking door-to-door for candidates for other offices getting to know their neighbors and the feel of the community. But voting is the simplest form of civic engagement.
Even when it’s challenging, voting absentee is a fairly simple process. I know. I don’t think I’ve missed an election since I came of age more than a dozen years ago.
When I was in college in Manhattan, Kan., that meant driving two hours each way to vote. I had the option of getting an absentee ballot, but that was back when voting was wildly exciting. I wanted to feel the lever in my hand and wait in line with my friends and neighbors.
When I was a flight attendant, or traveling a lot, I purchased an airplane ticket home so I could cast a ballot at one point. As an airline employee, I had the option of flying standby – catching a ride on a Kansas City-bound plane with an empty seat, but purchasing a ticket was the only way I could ensure I would make it home in time to pull the lever.
Sometimes, civic engagement requires sacrifice. Just ask our members of the military, who are often busy and traveling at election time.
They aren’t given a ballot by virtue of being in service to the country. Just like everyone else, they have to register and apply for an absentee ballot.
In fact, military ballots are of great concern in Kansas’ upcoming election. With reapportionment still being considered by district court judges, political boundaries may not be set in time to get ballots into the hands of our men and women overseas. Officials are planning to move heaven and earth to make sure they get their ballots. It’s that important.
Gregorcyk compared his own lack of entering the voting booth to Fotovich constantly voting “no” to city staff and Mayoral suggestions. The two aren’t the same thing in any way shape or form, and it’s a comparison that never should’ve been allowed to stand unopposed in the public square.
Somehow, I doubt our service men and women are willing to lay down their lives so individuals can agree with bureaucrats and leadership. Dissent is an important part of our republic – just like voting.
There’s plenty of egg on the faces of officials in this latest appointment. First, this is the second appointee to the council with a very thin voting history. Appearances are often reality to the rarely engaged, and it appears that having council members who care enough to go to the polls isn’t a priority. The Mayor should make it a point to request the voting records of the candidates he’s considering – not how they voted, but whether they did.
There were dozens of candidates available for the position, at least one of whom never misses a council meeting, serves on an appointed board, serves on various community service projects, and was on the last ballot for the job. That would’ve been a better, less elitist choice for the council seat.
Those who only take interest in civic life with the promise of a political title should be questioned. At the end of that road are elites who believe they aren’t required to do  common man’s work, like voting. They appear to want to be moved to the head of the class. It’s gross.
The other council members who so cavalierly accepted an appointee with such a thin voting resume are also deserving of disdain. Yes, there is a state statute that says if the council rejects a Mayoral appointment, they must pass a resolution saying why the person was unworthy of service. I can’t think of a better reason than never voting.
Finally, county commissioner David Lindstrom attended the meeting in support of Gregorcyk. I’m going to give Lindstrom the benefit of the doubt and assume he had no idea he was throwing his support to a person who can’t be bothered with the plebian task of voting. But what an embarrassment for him.
And what a shame for the rest of us. No matter Gregorcyk’s politics, Gardner deserves better.