City administrator returning to Oklahoma
Last week, Basehor city administrator David Fuqua returned to his native Oklahoma. When he returned to Kansas, he had a new job.
Fuqua, who the Basehor City Council pegged in February to become the first city administrator in Basehor history, confirmed this week that he would resign from the Basehor post he's held for 10 months. Fuqua accepted a job offer to become the new city manager at Wewoka, a town of approximately 4,500 residents.
Fuqua's new position is a homecoming of sorts -- he worked as city manager in Wewoka six years ago.
"It's one of those (opportunities) you really can't pass up on," said Fuqua, who added that Wewoka officials contacted him concerning their city manager's position.
"It totally blew me away. I had no idea they had an opening."
Fuqua said the new job offers him the chance to return to his home state and live in a familiar area with family members nearby.
As of Tuesday, Fuqua said he hadn't submitted an official letter of resignation, but would soon do so.
According to the outgoing administrator, his contract states he's to give 30 days notice before leaving his post. However, Fuqua said he'd like "to get going for logistical reasons" as soon as possible.
The future of Basehor, Fuqua said, could be a bright one, but city government leaders and residents alike "need to decide what they want and when they want it."
The Basehor City Council began discussions regarding hiring a city administrator in September of 2003. After agreeing to hire an administrator, city officials hired the League of Kansas Municipalities to help coordinate a search.
Fuqua, selected among numerous out-of-state candidates for the job, took office in March.
The city administrator's departure creates an interesting dilemma for Basehor City Council members, three of whom have told The Sentinel they won't run for re-election this spring. Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer, City Council president Julian Espinoza and member Keith Sifford have all indicated they would not seek re-election.
It's unclear whether the current administration will take steps to find a replacement before the April 2005 election or leave the decision for the post-election council members. This week, reactions concerning that very question, as well as comments on Fuqua's resignation, were varied among council members.
Scherer, who cited Fuqua's positive influence at City Hall as a reason why he felt comfortable not seeking an additional term, said the city "will basically start the process over in looking for an administrator."
"Obviously, the next step is to start over from scratch," Scherer said.
"From my perspective, the city would like to start as soon as possible so the city has a full-time administrator seeing to the day to day activities and not leaving the city unsupervised," Scherer said.
"We're very sorry to see Mr. Fuqua leave," he added. "We wish him the best in his endeavors."
City Council member Iris Dysart said she'd like to see the new City Council members have input into hiring the next city administrator.
"I think it's definitely a decision for the new City Council," said Dysart, adding that she's "kind of still reeling" from Fuqua's decision to leave Basehor.
"I don't think David's been able to accomplish what he wanted to when he came here," she said. "It wasn't an easy thing for him to step in there -- he's a very good administrator, a very good person and I hate to see him leave."
Dysart said Basehor has functioned without a city administrator for all of its history save for Fuqua's tenure and could do so again on a temporary basis.
"I guess we would just have to wing it -- we'd have to revert back to how it was handled before (Fuqua was hired)."
City Council member John Bonee said he favors the City Council refining its selection process and leaving the decision for the new governing body. The current council should "get all the preliminary things we can do (done) and then activate it when they get in place," Bonee said.
"It's only fair to have their input on someone who they'll spend four years with."
Espinoza, the council president, said the City Council will have to reach a consensus before moving forward, but that he favors the current governing body putting a new city administrator in office "as soon as possible."
"I'm surprised," he said. "You don't expect, when you bring on a new employee, for a resignation in less than a year. But, that's part of life. You have to deal with it."