Censured WyCo commissioner absent from public meeting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Embattled Unified Government of Wyandotte County Commissioner Tarence Maddox's seat was empty at Thursday night's commission meeting. But despite a call for his resignation, it is unlikely to remain that way.

The Unified Government's ethics commission issued its second-ever public censure to Maddox Thursday (he also received the first), for abusing his title in an incident at a gas station first reported by 41 Action News. The ethics commission asked Maddox to voluntarily resign his position by April 1.

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In a text message, Maddox said he would be attending a recital for one of his children on Thursday, not the commission meeting. He did not respond when asked if he planned to resign.

After the meeting, commissioners largely avoided the topic of Maddox.

Commissioner and former mayoral candidate Ann Murguia said she was not in a position to comment on whether Maddox should resign. 

"It appears that other people are in that position and they appear to be moving in the direction they need to be moving," Murguia said, referring to an investigation by Wyandotte County DA Jerome Gorman, who could force Maddox to step down.

Unified Government Mayor and CEO Mark Holland left the commission chambers by a side door and hurried to an elevator away from the main lobby. He did not respond to a reporter's question as the elevator doors closed.

A spokesman for the Unified Government referred 41 Action News to a statement from Holland released earlier Thursday which reads in part:

"While the lines of accountability for other elected officials do not run through my office, as Mayor, I support the checks and balances that are built into our government."

After the meeting, two Maddox supporters spoke their minds.

"I support him because he works hard for the people," Mary Martin said, a four-year resident. "I would be very offended as a voter in Wyandotte if he did step down because we don't have representation now. We only have one other African American gal on the commission."

Victor Trammel, a childhood friend Maddox appointed to a drug and alcohol oversight board, defended Maddox as having made poor personal choices, but ones of little consequence compared to what he said were rampant other problems in the Unified Government, including a pending lawsuit over an unfilled commission seat.

"If I was in the same position I might not have made the same decision but ultimately I think it's the governing body that is more newsworthy," Trammel said. 

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