FRONTENAC — Dave Fornelli graduated from Frontenac High School after growing up in the area, and now works for Crawford County Mental Health. Next week, he will take on a new set of responsibilities in contributing to his community when he is sworn in as Frontenac’s new mayor.
A year ago, many residents may not have expected Frontenac to be getting a new mayor. As of the candidate filing deadline in June, former Frontenac Mayor Linda Grilz was the only candidate running. In September, however, Grilz resigned after the council voted to terminate the city administrator, clerk and attorney.
“With everything that happened, I kind of got motivated by seeing the city council take action,” Fornelli said.
After Grilz publicly urged residents not to vote for her following her resignation, Fornelli’s ties to the community helped him win the race with 283 write-in votes.
“I know a lot of people so I got out and just talked to people and other people were excited that I was running too so they helped spread the word too,” Fornelli said.
Since Grilz’s resignation, new City Administrator John Zafuta and City Clerk Jayme Mjelde have been doing a good job, Fornelli said, and he will follow their lead. His top priority, he said, will be fixing problems with the city’s aging water system, which threaten to cost the city upwards of $5,000 per day in fines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment if it cannot show it is making progress on resolving the issues.
“We’ve got the water issue,” Fornelli said. “I mean, that’s pretty much front and center.”
While some residents may have concerns about the city government since the firings of city staff in September and Grilz’s resignation, Fornelli said he is confident in the city’s current leadership.
“I think if you look at all the people that are on the city council now, I mean everybody wants to be here, and if everybody wants to be here, it’ll run,” he said.
Fornelli acknowledged, however, that there will be more to learn about the job once he actually takes over as mayor.
“I’m just getting started,” he said, “so we’ll see what happens.”