Greg McKinley doesn’t consider himself an “average politician.”
The Republican District 2 candidate for Riley County Commission said he is running for the position to help people, not to hold a position of power. This carries over from his time serving on the Riley City Council.
“I just saw something that needed to be done and decided I was the person to do it,” McKinley said.
The idea for McKinley’s campaign began about two years ago, he said. In the town of Riley — population of nearly 1,000 people — there is no ambulance and McKinley said it can take up to 45 minutes for ambulances to reach the northernmost parts of the county. His concern for the safety of those residents motivated his campaign.
“They moved an ambulance to the north part of Manhattan and said ‘Oh that’s helping north county,'” McKinley said. “They need to add another station … and it needs to be in Leonardville because that’s pretty central to the north county area.”
McKinley said this is a service to the county, not a business.
Advocating for this and searching for ways to ensure northern Riley County has access to emergency services will be one of the top priorities he has if elected. Additionally, he said he wants to meet with every department to see how they run, what they need and how he can best serve them.
“It’s so I’m not completely blind when I go in, because it is gonna be … two new commissioners and [District One Commissioner] John Ford is going to carry over,” McKinley said. “He’s only been there two years so it’s going to be a fairly new group.”
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In an effort to be accessible to all his constituents, McKinley said he will also hold office hours outside of the normal workday.
“Just have regular office hours, you know,” McKinley said. “A couple hours on a couple of days. Come in, you want to talk about something you’re happy with, come in and talk about what they’re not happy with.”
Additionally, McKinley said he would propose holding evening meetings for people to come and discuss topics. These wouldn’t be full business meetings, he said, but would help get more people involved in local government.
McKinley carries a note pad with him at all times so he can make notes of issues people tell him about. He carried this practice over from his time working as a contractor, and it has helped him frequently during his campaign.
“When I was working as a project manager and going out on the job sites, I would always say, ‘Let me know what’s going on,'” McKinley said. “They started teasing me about having a pad of paper with a pen, but when you go to three different sites and everyone would say something different, by the time you would get back to the office you would forget.”
McKinley said another skill learned on the job — this time as a city council member — that will help him as a commissioner is the ability to read and maintain a budget.
“Government budgets are different than business or even personal budgets,” McKinley said. “There’s all kinds of rules. You got to figure it out ahead of time where everything goes.”
He plans to make his job about the people. Campaigning during a pandemic is hard, he said, but he stepped up to do more since he beat incumbent Marvin Rodriguez in the primary election.
McKinley said he wasn’t surprised to beat Rodriguez because he is in the race to win.
As McKinley looks toward election day, he said he will continue to distribute yard signs and go door-to-door to talk to Manhattan residents.
“What I’ve found is that you go knock on the door, step back and see if somebody comes out,” McKinley said. “If they do, talk to them. It’s also a lot of walking through neighborhoods to see if people are out. It’s different I am sure than what it used to be. You can’t go door-to-door shaking hands.”
McKinley doesn’t consider himself an outgoing person, but he said he enjoys going out to talk to people and getting to know what they need.