Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
City council reached a consensus to appoint Kasy Deaton as the new city council member.
Deaton, planning commission member, fills former Rich Melton’s vacated seat; he resigned last month.
Council members interviewed six applicants: Stacy Cooper, Kasy Deaton, Adrianna Meder, George Rifford, Chris Roberts and John L. Tramble Jr.
The process began with print and social media advertisements with a February 1 application.
All six applicants were interviewed at the city council meeting in alphabetical order and asked the same questions after a two minute opening statement.
Applicants were asked what three things they saw as the most critical issues for Gardner and where they saw the city in the next five to ten years.
Todd Winters, council president, said he wanted to know from each candidate if they would still be interested and willing to serve on different city boards and committees if they weren’t appointed to city council.
Each candidate said they would still serve or be involved in some capacity.
All six candidates said Gardner’s biggest issues were life after the Covid pandemic, planning and zoning, managing city growth, infrastructure and road conditions.
Candidates said there were concerns from citizens about positive business growth while providing affordable housing and keeping a “small-town” community feel.
Cooper said the next few months will be a challenging time for the city.
Deaton said the city should focus on managing the substantial growth with the impact of Logistics Park while maintaining roads without being  taxing on citizens and utilities.
Meder said she couldn’t speak loudly enough on the importance of attracting and keeping small businesses. She said Gardner has a bright future.
Rifford said Gardner has an identity crisis that also needs affordable housing.
“I’m not sure if we know who we are,” he said. “We are not Olathe or Edgerton.”
Rifford said Gardner needs to build relationships with their neighbors and be a beacon to other communities.
Roberts said he was concerned about road conditions and the lack of connectedness from different areas of town. Roberts said his car had to have two new alignments in the last few years. He said citizens had suggested a bridge on Moonlight to go over the railroad tracks because the tracks cut off two sides of the city.
Tramble said Gardner lacked in diversity and needed better communication.
Randy Gregoryck, council member, said he wanted to know how Tramble defined diversity.
“Gardner has a reputation of a small town feel meaning whites only with affordability and openness,” he said.
Council members took two minutes to meet and vote.
Tramble and Meder followed in votes after Deaton. Tory Roberts, council member, was a no vote for Deaton.
Deaton’s appointed term and seat will end November 2024.