Nearly a week after casting a vote to terminate County Manager Hannes Zacharias’s contract, 3rd District Commissioner Steve Klika has issued a statement on his decision. The statement, distributed to the media this morning, is below:
Thank you for your patience in allowing me to take the time to attend to personal obligations, as well as to provide a thorough and thoughtful response to your comments and concerns regarding the non- renewal of Hannes’ contract. My decision to release Mr. Zacharias from his contract was made after months of deliberation and careful consideration. It was not a decision made in haste, nor did I allow politics to enter into my decision. My decision was based on my long-term vision for the County and my belief that County leadership should reflect the vision of the Commission and the mission of the County.
As a growing county facing numerous challenges, we require progressive, out-of-the-box thinking that is focused on our citizens’ needs and expectations. My concern is that, as a county, we have been reactive and not proactive; more organizationally focused than citizen focused. We must be as nimble as possible in order to adapt to change.
Hannes has been a dedicated public servant, who has served Johnson County with honesty and integrity since 2001. However, the position of County Manager is reviewed annually by the board, and anyone holding this position is fully aware that contract renewal is not automatic. I wish Hannes nothing but the best and thank him for his many years of service.
To the County employees who crafted an “anonymous” letter in fear of losing their jobs, I say thank you for your bravery in expressing your comments and concerns. I understand that change can be difficult to embrace, even if it opens up new possibilities. While I anticipate a national search for Hannes’ replacement, I also believe we have qualified people within the organization who are more than capable of taking the County to the next level. Although it is normal for not everyone to agree on every issue, my door is always open. Serving as County Commissioner requires making hard, sometimes unpopular, decisions but it also allows me to serve alongside almost 4,000 other County employees who make apositive difference in the lives of the people we serve every day. I am committed to safety and diversity in the workplace and welcome respectful dialogue.
To the citizens of Johnson County, I say thank you for allowing me to serve you. I am committed to expanding our current County services to meet the needs of our growing population. Rest assured that my primary goal in making this decision is to ensure the County focuses on making decisions and plans that will take us well into the 2020s and beyond.
Johnson County Commissioner
Klika is the seventh and final member of the board of county commissioners to issue comment explaining his vote.