Thursday night, after a moment of silence in honor of former Geary County Commissioner Ben Bennett who died Dec. 12, 2019, the Geary County Republican Party selected Brad Scholz to take Bennett’s place on the commission.
It was a close vote between him and the other nominee, GOP County Chair Rick Roberts, with him winning 7-6 — by a single vote.
“Rick’s a great guy,” Scholz said. “He’s been our county chair for a while … I think either one of us would have done well for the citizens of Geary County. And again, not just Republican but Democrat also.”
He stressed bipartisanship when he spoke before the ballots were cast.
Scholz hopes to serve the county well in Bennett’s place.
“Those are huge shoes to fill,” he said. “That’s humbling in and of itself. This is a guy that dedicated literally his entire life to Junction City.”
Bennett spent his life and career engaging in public service, Scholz said.
“We all need to emulate someone like that,” he said.
Scholz said he would resign from the Board of Trustees of Geary Community Hospital, which he has been on for the past three months, after being nominated to fill Bennett’s seat.
Pending his approval by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, he plans to educate himself on matters of importance to the county.
“I want to acquaint myself better with the budget,” Scholz said. “I want to meet with department heads … If you know how something functions, you may find out why things are lacking in certain areas or where you need improvement in those areas.”
He said he plans on acquainting himself with the Kansas County Commissioners Association, which Geary County is associated with.
“I’ve got a long road to haul,” Scholz said. “I need to learn a lot.”
Plans for his time on the county commission include keeping property taxes low and building better relations and opening lines of communication with the local city government.
“The city and the county share a lot of responsibilities,” Scholz said. “So I think that would probably be my starting point.”
He will finish out Bennett’s final term, which was over in 2020 and then run in the 2020 election.