Council clashes over board, commission policy

By Megan Wehring

KYLE — Questions of what qualifies candidates for boards and commissions were raised Tuesday night as city leaders disputed the city’s unclear policy. 

The Kyle City Council denied a proposed task force that would review and update the boards and commissions policy by a 2-5 vote. Council members Dex Ellison and Yvonne Flores-Cale voted in favor of the change. 

Ellison, who suggested a task force of two to three council members, said the 2017 policy needs to be updated to fit the number of interested candidates. 

“We have a good problem,” Ellison said. “We have a lot of people that are looking to be involved. I think some clarity in the policy would be helpful so residents know the path and what they must do in order to be a part of our boards and commissions.”

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Ellison added that a few months ago, there were some disagreements about whether the policy was followed when an appointment was made. While he did not go into specifics on the disagreements, Ellison said the policy needs to be more robust and clear to address a large applicant pool. 

Flores-Cale agreed that the current policy needs to be changed because she has noticed some inconsistencies in what is required for each applicant. 

“There were several instances where a resume was viewed twice,” Flores-Cale explained. “There was an instance where [staff]chose somebody where there was no resume submitted as opposed to somebody submitting the application, cover letter and resume. Is it a perfect system? No, but I think it is broken.”

Flores-Cale added that there needs to be equal representation on the Planning & Zoning Commission. 

“I think above and beyond everything else, we need input from everybody,” Flores-Cale said. “If we are getting 12 resumes, my opinion is we need to go out a little bit and get one from each district or location. Instead of three people that live two miles apart.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Rick Koch disagreed and said the current policy has continued to work for several years. 

 “I’m not in favor of creating a task force,” Koch said. “I always look forward to any changes that a council member would want to bring forward. But, I don’t think the policy is broken. I’m not confused by it. 

Council member Michael Tobias questioned if there was a limit on how many applications come through would solve the issue. 

Council member Robert Rizo explained that if there was a cap, the city might miss out on a qualified candidate because their application came in at a later time. 

“If we get 12 applicants,” Rizo said, “and you have five that have exceptional resumes that have some experience in what they are going to be assigned to, then you naturally would look at those five. In business, you would do the same thing.”

Discussion of qualifications continued to circulate across the dais. 

Specific descriptions and qualifications for each job are not lined out in the policy, rather they are posted on the city’s website when a vacant position is created. Once final candidates are selected from the interview process, they will be presented to the mayor and council at a regular meeting. 

Ellison concluded that when the council is discussing qualifications, they need to be lined out in the policy for complete transparency with residents. 

“It would give clear communication to the community as well as those that are ultimately voting on the nominees,” Ellison said. “These are all things that no matter who applied, they had an equal shake on that.”

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Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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