Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Hutchinson City Council Moves to Fire City Manager Kendal Francis


HUTCHINSON, Kan. – For the second time in just over a year the City of Hutchinson is searching for a new City Manager.

On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, and following a lengthy executive session, the Hutchinson City Council voted to fire City Manager Kendal Francis “for cause.” Mayor Jon Richardson, Vice Mayor Greg Fast and Council Member Stacy Goss voted in favor of termination, while members Stuart Conklin and Steven Garza voted against the decision.

Mayor Richardson said an investigation found no less than two issues involving a violation of a city policy related to creating or contributing to an unproductive environment and harassment. Francis, who began his duties as City Manager in January, said in open session that he had been placed on administrative leave 2 ½ weeks ago over allegations of sexual harassment which he claims to be unfounded. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point, Francis said.”

Francis said he was told that he had touched a cold can of pop to the cheek of a female employee in one incident, and in another, he had pulled the name badge of that same employee, which was on a retractable clip, and let it go.

Mayor Richardson said that the city manager is expected to act in a manner above reproach, that he has had concerns over how Francis managed his employees, and that there was a plan to address that, but it came “after the bell had rung.”

He also stated a concern for employees of the city, and that while the allegations did not rise to a legal level of harassment, they did as it relates to city policy.

Goss said that the number of executive sessions the Council conducted in this matter were in no way a disregarding of these accusations, nor should they be misconstrued as a division of the Council. “We are unpaid volunteers who are balancing our work duties, personal duties, family duties, with the duties of holding office,” she said. “This has been a challenge and we have invested a good amount of time into this consideration.”

Garza and Conklin were both hopeful that the issues could have been resolved. “He’s done a good job and he can lead going forward,” Conklin said.

Francis, who was previously City Administrator in Great Bend, was hired late last year after the Council declined to renew the contract of Jeff Cantrell.