Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Looks like Eudora may soon have a new City Manager. On Monday night, the City Commission approved offering a contract to Gary Ortiz, currently the Assistant County Administrator in Wyandotte County, KS. If he accepts the offer, Ortiz will replace current City Manager Mike Press.
When Press took over for City Administrator John Harrenstein in early 2013, the plan was to have Press serve as an interim City Manager until a permanent City Manager could be hired. Commissioners could not find a candidate they preferred at the time and ultimately asked Press to stay as a replacement until a suitable candidate became available. According to Press, his stay was supposed to be very short term.
“Harrenstein called me asked if I would do this on a temporary basis,” Press said. “But then after a while I offered to stay until we found someone suitable. We finally found such a person.”
Press said that his intention was never to be here long term. Press had retired as Johnson County Administrator and then went on to serve as Interim City Manager for both Gardner and Edgerton, KS prior to coming to Eudora. Press said that despite looking towards retirement once again, he will miss the city. In previous conversations with press he stated Eudora always has a special place in his heart.
“My family used to pick up pelts here in the old days and deliver them to the garment district,” Press said. “This town means a lot to me and it always will.”
Ortiz returns to the position of being a City Manager. He served as the City Manager in Leavenworth, KS from 1998 until 2007 when he moved to the Wyandotte County position. He has been with that job since. Ortiz graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison and received a Master’s Degree from KU in Public Education. During his time at KU, he received the Robert Scott Brooks Award for outstanding student in Public Administration. Ortiz currently is an instructor of the KU Public Management Center, a leading program for future city leaders.
Mayor John Fiore spoke greatly about Ortiz and his selection as the new City Manager.
“His experience and resume are stellar,” Fiore said. “He’s very knowledgeable and has shown a strong commitment to the previous municipalities he has served.”
Fiore said that two candidates have been interviewed for the position in the last month and Ortiz stood above the other unidentified candidate. Fiore added that he also compared him to the interviews conducted in 2013 and the Commission could not identify a better candidate.
“We were lucky to be able to wait until we found the right candidate for the position and we did just that,” Fiore stated.
Ortiz was not at the Commission meeting on Monday night and we attempted to reach him by phone on Tuesday but were unsuccessful. Press said that if the offer is accepted, he expected Ortiz would be on the job in Eudora in approximately 3 to 6 weeks.