Bruce Snead ended his term as Mayor of the City of Manhattan last night. He dealt with city ordinances, navigated through lawsuits and resolved often controversial community issues during his 16 year career serving the city as both city commissioner and mayor.
In his farewell speech to the audience gathered at last night’s city commission meeting and those watching from their homes, Snead addressed a number of issues, hitting on key points of his time as a public servant.
“I was the longest serving commissioner and 4-time mayor,” Snead said. “I’m proud that I’ve tried to push the envelop here.”
Pushing the envelope of many issues that he worked for would better the community, even if they were controversial he said. One such issue was the gender identity and sexual orientation ordinance that he voted on in a 3-2 decision in February.
He hailed Manhattan as being ahead of the curve. The city, for example, was at one time the “smallest clean city” in the nation, Snead said. The city is a well-planned community, he said, noting the library plan and city transit implementation plan.
The elections he ran were like sprints he said. But actually holding office is a bit different.
“It’s all about a marathon of governance,” he said. “It takes energy, it takes passion, it takes vision, and it takes perseverance.”
Snead was part of the commission that annexed K-State to the city in 1994. Following that, the City/University Projects Fund was created as part of the deal. This fund has provided projects of mutual benefit to the city and university, Snead said.
“It institutionalized the relationship,” he said. “We are the envy of other institutions.”
Snead thanked particular people that he worked with during his time as public servant for Manhattan. After thanking his wife, Leslie, in an emotional moment, he presented her with flowers.
He went on to recognize others who he worked with over the years, including city administration officials.
“These staff professionals are some of the finest people I know,” Snead said. “The finest people I know. They’re dedicated.”
He also thanked citizens for their input over the years. “From the constructive to the clueless,” he joked. Everyone, he said, is a traffic engineer and a retail marketing specialist.
Throughout the years, he said he learned important aspects of city government. The most important in terms of lessons, he said, was to consider what is best for the longterm interest of the community.
That is not an easy task, he said, but the commission must do it.
“Don’t put off difficult decisions,” he said. “Putting decisions off only burdens future city commissions to solve.”
“You’re going to finish things others start and start things others finish, that’s the nature of public service,” Snead said.
Snead said he was fortunate to have a flexible job working for K-State that allowed him to engage the community through public service.
“I’m not stepping down because I’m worn out or disappointed,” he said. “Im stepping down on top.”
With his new abundance of free time, he said he would be either riding his bike or working on a honey-do list that has accumulated over the years.
The new commission with three freshman commissioners voted Jim Sherow as mayor and Loren Pepperd as Mayor pro-tem.
Sherow said the city is clearly doing something right as it is the envy of other city leaders across the state. He listed economic statistics that paint Manhattan as one of the best economic frontiers in the nation. “Money” magazine, he said, listed the city as one of the best cities to retire young and the income growth per capita is increasing faster than the state average.
“With careful planning and genuine public participation, we will lay the groundwork that provides economic opportunity for all,” Sherow said.
The commission will endeavor to build upon past accomplishments and looks to the completion of the Downtown Redevelopment Project and the Flint Hills Redevelopment Center.