‘Who is left to run the city?’: Questions continue following shakeup at Goddard City Hall

City offices in Goddard, Kansas
City offices in Goddard, Kansas(KWCH)
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:33 PM CST
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GODDARD, Kan. (KWCH) - Goddard residents continue to express concerns and anger at what took place at a city council meeting in January as they question plans moving forward.

In a flurry of action taken in less than 20 minutes on Jan. 17, a mayor was voted off the bench, a vote returned a former mayor to the post and a city administrator was fired.

Hunter Larkin retook the position of Goddard Mayor, obtaining the council’s majority vote to do so moments after the city leaders voted to oust Mayor Larry Zimmerman. Wasting no time, Larkin then motioned to fire the city’s administrator. In the weeks that followed, pushback from residents has included an effort to recall Larkin who previously served as Goddard’s mayor from November 2021 to May 2022.

With the city administrator gone, residents are asking, “Who’s running our city?”

“Who’s taking care of the day-to-day business? Who’s paying our bills, who’s making sure things are running day-to-day? Is it the mayor?” Goddard resident Mary Zoglman questioned. “Is he writing the checks? Is he paying the bills?”

If Larkin is writing the checks, his signature doesn’t set well for many in the community who have expressed concerns and frustrations.

“I have no confidence in that person at all,” Goddard resident George Liebe said.

In towns like Goddard, the city council appoints the city administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations and advise the council on matters related to city operations. Without an administrator, there’s a gap in oversight and a key question raised is, who employees or department heads answer to?

“I mean, is our mayor gonna run our city? I mean, who’s gonna keep track and make sure he stays on track?” Liebe questioned.

At its last meeting Monday, the Goddard City Council did discuss appointing an interim city administrator, but the group took no action.

“I don’t think we have a clear plan of what our next thing is. I think we’re all very concerned and hope to see some mayor changes quickly,” Zoglman said.

“I just wanna know who’s gonna guard the chicken coup for the next seven to eight months if we can’t get [Larkin] recalled until the next election, and who’s gonna keep him from running roughshod over the whole city,” Liebe added.

Goddard’s next step will be to select a consulting group to help the council search for a new city administrator. Once that group is selected, a clearer plan will be established. For the time being, city departments continue to operate as they have been since last month’s shakeup.