Meet the candidate: Matta plans to use his experience to promote communication between city, county

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John Matta is running for Riley County Commission in District 3. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State College of Business adjunct professor John Matta has been a part of the Manhattan community for 22 years.

Now, he wants to apply his career experiences at the county commission level.

Formerly serving as a Manhattan city commissioner and mayor, Matta is now running as a Republican for the District 3 Riley County Commission seat currently held by Ron Wells.

The key areas of Matta’s campaign are efficiency, affordability, economic development and regional cooperation.

Matta said his background in managing supply chain, distribution and — most recently — retail is the foundation of his campaign.

With 16 years of experience as vice president of logistics for Foot Locker, Matta said he teaches the business principles he practices to K-State students in his logistics and warehouse management class.

“What I want to do with my students is get them ready for the workplace,” Matta said.

Matta brings in guest speakers to help his students get real workforce experience. One upcoming speaker for the class is City of Manhattan mayor pro tempore Wynn Butler.

Butler, who served with Matta on the Manhattan City Commission, said Matta’s business experience in logistics makes him the only candidate with the background to step up to a county management role.

“Rational problem solving is one of [Matta’s] … major strengths,” Butler said. “He will investigate, collect data, analyze the data, pick the best course of action for the county as a whole and follow through to make certain the result is attained.”

Matta said Manhattan and Riley County need to cooperate better right now.

“[Communication] really has not been good for the past couple years, and the sales tax issue we have right now is a good example of that,” Matta said.

Matta plans to collaborate with other local government entities and counties to decide where they can combine forces, streamline operations and get rid of duplication, whether it’s in regards to facilities, services or administration.

Matta served on the Manhattan City Commission from 2011 to 2015. During that time, the city renewed the economic sales tax, completed the Flint Hills Discovery Center and finished the airport remodel project.

“[Matta] will bring cooperation between the county and city government,” Butler said. “He was the best mayor and city commissioner that we have had in the past eight years.”

If elected, Matta said he wants to continue to develop not only the Riley County area, but other surrounding counties.

“I want to get a rural economic development advisory board … to bring in new businesses, new people,” Matta said. “A big part of what I think I bring to the table, that none of the other candidates do, is I have some credibility when I say I can go in and make things more efficient because I have done it time in and time out in organizations much larger.”

Matta’s focus is long-term. He said he has plans to keep the county commission on the right track, even after his potential term.

“When I talk about efficiency, I don’t want to just do it for the next budget cycle,” Matta said. “I want to give it a 10-year, 15-year plan where we know where we’re going. That in 10 years, we’re not going to increase property taxes by another 100 percent.”

Matta said success is when you can walk away and it still runs well.

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Sean Schaper
My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the assistant news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.