Mayor Dwight Livingston appointed Bonnie Kruse Tuesday to the board of directors of the North Platte Housing Authority even though Housing Authority Director J.D. Bennett had someone else in mind.Kruse’s appointment was unanimously approved by the council.
Bennett told the Bulletin late Monday that she liked Michelle Settles or Judy Pederson in the post, which fills the upcoming vacancy of Rick Kolkman.
Kolkman is resigning in May. He is retired and in the process of moving away from North Platte.
Bennett expected the mayor to review her recommendations for his replacement, after she conferred with key staff and the Housing Authority’s residents’ council. That didn't happen.
“That’s the proper procedure,” Bennett said. “The mayor gets to appoint, but doesn’t get to choose. You don’t want political appointments.”
Livingston told the Bulletin that he talked to three people who expressed interest in the board position and chose the person he thought best.
Kruse is a grant writer for North Platte Community College.
Livingston said Kruse is “intelligent. She knows grants, which certainly might an appropriate thing to know, and she knows about housing.”
Pederson is a former city councilwoman. Bennett said she currently serves on a state board that advises the governor on housing and homelessness.
Settles is a board member of the Lincoln County Development Corporation, which provides low-income housing at the direction of Nancy Striebel. Settles also works in the mortgage department at First National Bank.
Livingston said he wanted to make the appointment now, so there is time for Kruse to talk to board members as well as Bennett and attend a board meeting if she wants to, before she officially becomes a voting member.
He said Settles didn’t contact him before he was ready to make a choice, and that he heard her name after he'd picked Kolkman's replacement.
“I didn’t know that name at the time,” Livingston said. “If there is another opening, I will certainly keep her in mind.”
Bennett, who is renovating the Housing Authority, said she wanted to run the prospective board member past the resident's council before she made a definite recommendation. She said elected officials have a role in the selection process, but it's important that they keep an arm's length distance.
"His role is to see that no one is stacking the board," she said. "Usually, the best thing is to advertise the opening in the newspaper. Then people tend to surface and everyone can take a closer look."
Housing Authority board member Lawrence Ostendorf is running for city council. His seat will be open if he is elected in November, Livingston said.
Meanwhile, the mayor thinks Bennett will be pleased with Kruse and the transition will be smooth.`
“I think she (Bennett) will be pleasantly surprised – she (Kruse) is a good choice,” he said.
The city council approved the appointment without comment.