Nick McNamara/KMAN

Following unanimous approval for a routine contract renewal Tuesday, re-elected and a newly elected former commissioner were sworn in to the Manhattan City Commission and one commissioner was selected for a second stint as the city’s mayor.

Usha Reddi, Wynn Butler and John Matta took their oaths of office as administered by City Clerk Brenda Wolf Tuesday. Reddi earned the highest number of votes in the election, securing a four-year term and the mayorship in 2024. Butler earned the second highest number of votes, also earning four years on the board and mayorship in 2025. Matta came in at number three in the election, and will serve a two-year term on the commission.

Following the oaths, Wolf called for nominations for mayor and mayor pro tempore. The two positions are largely ceremonial in a manager-commission style city government such as Manhattan, which traditionally rotates the roles between elected four-year commissioners in order of vote total. Following the custom, Linda Morse was selected as mayor and Mark Hatesohl as mayor pro tem. until January 2023.

New Mayor Morse expressed optimism about the city’s direction in 2022 and 2023.

“We’ve got to be ready,” says Morse. “Our sales tax and the State of Kansas sales tax is already emerging and above some past years, […] so our future is encouraging and we have to sell Manhattan as best we can anywhere we can.”

Mayor Pro Tem Hatesohl opened his tenure discussing the common interest all commissioners have in serving the city.

“Everybody wants the best things for the City of Manhattan,” Hatesohl says. “When national politics drips into local politics that’s when there’s some disparities a lot of times, but I just want to remind people that when things are important for day-to-day operations of the city pretty much that’s one of the things we pretty much all will agree on.”

Commissioner Reddi was happy to be back for a new term, expressing similar sentiments to Hatesohl.

“We do have really good civil discourse and it’s good to have that kind of discourse when we make our decisions and have a broad discussion.”

Outgoing Commissioner Aaron Estabrook was recognized for his two years of service as an elected official for the City of Manhattan with a plaque and a collage of photos from his tenure as well as a gift for his wife, Dantia. Estabrook says serving amid the pandemic made for a ‘wild’ two years.

“I’m sure I’ll be the only commissioner in history that spent most of their meetings at home,” Estabrook says. “We had internal debates across the city, we navigated things in the last two years and I think it’s transformative where we’ve gotten to, what we’re able to do now compared to two years ago and I look forward to all the success in the future.”

Some of the highlights of his time on the commission Estabrook mentioned was the renaming of Martin Luther King Jr Drive and the beginning of work in the realm of housing.

Returning to the commission is John Matta, who says he intends to work to live up to the goals and words he expressed on the campaign trail.

“I hope that I presented myself that nine times out of 10 people could figure out how I was going to vote because I let people know and that’s why they voted for me,” Matta says. “When I left in 2015, I believe I accomplished that so I’m happy to be back again and I’ll kind of be using that same philosophy.”

Former Mayor Wynn Butler was also recognized for his service as mayor throughout 2021 with a plaque and photo collage. Butler reflected on his disappointment that property tax increased despite his opposition, though was optimistic that increased sales tax receipts will improve the situation in this year’s budget talks.

“I think we’ve turned the corner on that and I think that’s going to be very helpful on the budget this year.”

In other business, January 15 through 17 was declared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration and Day of Service in Manhattan.

You can hear the full proclamation and remarks by Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Committee Co-Chair Kevin Bryant and Art/Writing Contest Coordinator Susanne Glymour below:

      010421 MLK Proclamation

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