Seeing the issues Sedgwick dealt with over the past year and a half — from relinquishing its EMS license to overall budgetary concerns — resident Bryan Chapman was spurred to action. It was troubling to hear all the problems of the community Chapman has lived in for more than 40 years continuously harped on, so he decided to be a part of the solution by running for (and being elected as) mayor this past fall.
"I just kept hearing that negative press, and we work so hard to get the community to be a home for everybody. It just felt like home — a good place, good schools — and I just hated to hear that all the time," Chapman said. "What I'm trying to do now is bring a little calm and reserve, and more of a business-like atmosphere. I'd like to set up and perhaps get some community input of where we're at, where we'd like to go and where they would like to see us go — where we need to be — and go from there, make a strategic plan."
This is not Chapman's first foray into public office, as he served on the Sedgwick City Council in the '80s (as well as from 2006 to 2012) and was also a member of the school board for one term, on top of his engagement with other civic organizations.
During his previous service, Chapman noted being on the council with former mayor Keith DeHaven helped shape his own political ambitions — and that is something he will bring with him to his role as mayor.
"He was a strong advocate of going to community meetings and doing your part to step up and pay back," Chapman said. "In that, (I) went to several training seminars to help learn what city government was about, your role, how you can fit in and what you can do. I think I had that training and then I got quite a bit of expertise from my mentor."
While the self-employed member of the construction industry noted he initially tried recruiting members of the younger generation to help Sedgwick's cause as mayor — as Chapman nears retirement (and more fishing trips) — he was ready to take up the crusade himself, too, and ultimately voted into office in November 2017.
Amidst the tumultuous events of the past year, Chapman said in taking on this role he has relied on the assistance of city staff and his fellow council members — who he noted have been very gracious in helping him get established in his first month as mayor as he outlines his priorities.
"Right now, I'm just working to get my feet on the ground and working with the employees to see what their needs and wants are, and what we can do as a team to make it better and easier," Chapman said.
Sedgwick's EMS issues have been addressed by signing an agreement with Halstead for the provision of such services, but even that is something Chapman said the city will strive to make better in working with its partner city in training the Sedgwick Fire Department to be better first responders.
Hurdles certainly remain, like the amount of bonded indebtedness the city is facing (much from the industrial park), but Chapman noted those can be addressed through the creation of a business plan — something he stated as key to bringing more stability to the city offices.
Partnership will be crucial in taking on many of the tasks (i.e. taking inventory of the city's assets) Chapman sees as key to righting the ship, but he is ready to bring that mentality in his service as mayor and hoping he can help the city get on track for a brighter future.
"Everything was a fire drill and it's hard to work in that situation, so I just want to bring a little calm and get everybody on the same page and, hopefully, create some sort of a strategic plan to get us moving on into the future," Chapman said. "The things we do today affect my grandchildren — who're gonna be here hopefully in 20, 30 years — so we want to take positive steps and not negative steps."