1/11/2022 - Statement from Outgoing Mayor, Melissa Rose Hodges
To my fellow Commissioners, City Staff, and Salina Citizens:
I have been honored to serve as your commissioner the past five years. I was first elected by commissioners to fill the unexpired term of Randall Hardy, as he took a seat in the Kansas Senate. A year later, I took the oath of office after election by voters to a four-year term. I now pass leadership responsibilities to others and turn attention to our growing family. Since joining the Commission, both sons have married and have pursued opportunities away from Salina, and Boo and I now have two grandchildren and another on the way. When I ran for the Commission, I used the tag line “Good government begins at home.” I still believe that local, nonpartisan government represents the best of us. But I leave the Commission in more uncertain times than when I started. We have weathered a pandemic for the past two years, a pandemic fueled by myth and fear rather than by fact and resolve. As we marked the first anniversary of the attack on our nation’s capitol, we have seen that it damaged our political discourse and social relationships not only on a national level, but on state and local levels, as well. Repairing or mitigating that damage to our democracy remains a challenge to our new Commission and is needed if Salina is to move forward in ways that benefit us all. As your Commissioner, I have worked to prepare for meetings, study sessions, and committee assignments. If the job brings some small measure of prestige, it also brings a larger commitment of time and energy. My preparation has always had an eye and ear to citizens who are underserved and without a voice. I have been part of more than my share of minority votes, but I did what I felt was in the best interests of all members of our community. I suspect fellow Commissioners would say the same about their votes! My thanks to citizens who have shared views with me by phone or online. Citizens who speak before Commission meetings get TV coverage, but emails to Commissioners get our attention just as surely. Lack of newspaper coverage of Commission agendas and meetings and letters to the editor, whoever that may be, has stifled citizen discussion and response to issues before the City. That is a huge loss to the governing body. My thanks to City Staff Members, especially our often-overlooked front-line staff who directly provide services to our citizens. Your great helpfulness is appreciated, especially as we struggle to fill vacancies and still maintain the high level of service that Salinans expect and deserve. I’d also like to acknowledge fellow commissioners Trent, Karl, Mike, Aaron and, of course, Rod (Franz). Although not always in agreement, we still continued to do the work of the people. And finally, my welcome to Bill Longbine and Greg Lenkiewicz as you join Trent, Karl and Mike on the City Commission.
- Melissa Rose Hodges