Good signs: New city manager has positive first week
Sean Pederson takes it as a good sign that the first day he stepped into his role as Bonner Springs city manager, the Royals won Game 1 of the World Series.
That was followed by another bit of good luck on Halloween, when friends gave Pederson tickets to the Kansas University football game against Oklahoma University. The Jayhawks didn’t win, but a picture taken of Pederson’s 2-year-old son at the game, dressed as Captain America, was printed the Tulsa World.
Pederson sees it as a good start to his tenure as the leader of the Bonner Springs’s city staff.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Bonner; there’s a lot of good things on the horizon,” he said. “I’m just happy to be part of it.”
Pederson comes to Bonner Springs after serving as city manager in Canton, S.D., since February 2013. But he isn’t new to Kansas; his father served as city manager in Dodge City for two years, and Pederson received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kansas University.
But Pederson said he still has a lot to learn about Bonner Springs. On his first day, the department leaders for the city held a staff meeting as they usually do on Tuesdays, and he told them he would be taking some time to learn about the city before initiating any projects or programs.
“As I told the department heads on Tuesday, this is going to be several weeks, a several-month transition just to really get up to speed, because there are a lot of good things going on the community, and to really understand and appreciate all those things just takes time,” he said.
Pederson said he is thankful he is able to do that because his predecessor, John “Jack” Helin, left things in such good order.
“Jack left a lot of notes, and with that I have somewhat of a template to follow for the next several months as I’m trying to get my feet wet, so to speak,” Pederson said.
Another benefit to coming into Bonner Springs was the experience of the long-tenured city staff — most of the department leaders have held their positions for several years.
“It’s good to walk into an organization like that,” Pederson said. “I knew that coming in, that the staff turnover at the department-head level is low, so the institutional knowledge is immense.”
Pederson said he has spent his first week in the city getting to know the city’s staff, facilities, council members and the community in general.
He said one specific item he has met with staff about is the Kansas Highway 7 and Interstate 70 interchange, both its history and how its future development will impact the community. Pederson said he plans to continue work to make sure the city has “a seat at the table to make sure our interests are being communicated at that level.”
Otherwise, Pederson said his main goal for now is to keep the city running. Once he feels he understands all the ins and outs of Bonner Springs, he said he hopes to work more on the city’s strategy for future growth.
Pederson and his wife are still trying to sell their home in South Dakota and used the weekend to do some house hunting in Bonner Springs. He has some time, but one ultimate deadline: His wife is expecting their second child in March.
He said on Monday, his son gave a big stamp of approval to their new hometown.
“I don’t know how much of an opinion a 2-and-a-half-year-old can have … but he was excited to get his library card today,” Pederson said. “He had his little lanyard with his book card on there, so he was pretty jazzed about that.”