Kansas city manager experienced in downtown development
Beloit, Kan., is not a vacation destination. It’s a quiet town of 4,100, mostly farmers and ranchers who don’t fuss much over controversy.
While many other rural cities in Kansas are struggling as the business of growing crops and raising cattle changes, Beloit has kept up with the times, residents say.
People who live and work in the central Kansas town say City Administrator David Fraser, 36, helps bring people together with enthusiasm and a sense of economic development.
“He does have special personal talents of encouraging people,” said Curt Frasier, president of Solomon Valley Economic Development Inc.
Fraser’s personality makes people want to “step forward” and take on challenges they wouldn’t normally consider, Frasier said.
Fraser was selected recently by Carson City supervisors as a finalist for city manager. He and candidates Linda Ritter of Elko and James Palenick of Bay City, Mich. , will be interviewed Thursday at the community center.
Fraser jumped into a management position after finishing a master’s degree in public administration at Brigham Young University. He first worked as town administrator of Milliken, Colo., and then as city manager of Buchanan, Mich.
“It just seemed it was something I was well suited for,” Fraser said. “I like trying to make a difference in people’s lives.”
In his five years with Beloit, he has supervised the operation of city departments, the municipal airport, utilities and the city-owned electric facility.
He has also worked with a local technical college and 99-bed hospital to create a multi-use wellness and recreation center. Other projects have included street construction; water and wastewater improvements; construction of a fire station, electric substations, airport hangar; and runway improvements.
The city is a hub for cattle ranchers and growers of wheat, grains and corn. It is also home to a large sunflower producer. While jobs in agriculture have shrunk, the city has concentrated on bringing in agriculture.
“We’ve really been able to expand our employment base in that way,” Fraser said.
In Buchanan, a town of about 4,800, he was instrumental in acquiring a $1.6 million grant to clean up a city-owned industrial park and get it back on the market for redevelopment, he said.
In an area where 5,000 workers had been recently laid off after a major manufacturer closed, Fraser said he worked to diversify industry and bring in several smaller manufacturing employers. The city then purchased a vacant manufacturing facility downtown and cleaned it up for redevelopment.
Fraser told a panel of Carson community members in March the most important skill for a manager is “people skills.”
“The best thing I can do is to have good people around me,” he said. “As a manager, I’m more of a generalist.”
He said he likes to go to businesses, schools, churches to meet people.
“The one thing I bring to the table above all is integrity,” Fraser said. He rates his top two skills as honesty and common sense.
He is also known in Beloit for his ability to bring people together.
“David has been a real asset to this community in terms of developing a strong, positive relationship between municipal government and the community,” Frasier said.
In Beloit, people believe that working together gets things done faster, Frasier said.
“We work at that,” he said. “Generally, you get far less done if you’re fighting over things.”
“I think he’s real nice,” said George Colby, a councilman for the past 12 years who formerly worked for the city. “I think he does an excellent job.”
Fraser is active in his church and belongs to the Rotary Club. He mainly focuses on spending time with his family when he is not working. He also plays basketball whenever he can, he said.
Fraser and his wife’s children are Riley, 12; Jayson, 7; Tommy, 6; and Benjamin, 2.
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors city manager selection
When: 1 p.m. Thursday
Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.