The longtime manager of the biggest county in Kansas was ousted Thursday by a 4-3 vote of the Johnson County Commission. Hannes Zacharias has been county manager since 2009 and had been in county management since 2001.
“As I stated prior to and following the vote, I do not agree with the decision and believe it is not the correct action for our county commission to take," Commission Chair Ed Eilert said in a statement. "This vote does not reflect in any negative way on the moral, ethical or professional character of Mr. Zacharias, as I and others stated as the vote was taken."
Commissioner Michael Ashcraft agreed that Zacharias had done nothing wrong and, in fact, "has done well."
"I think it's time to try some new things, be more responsive to the community," Ashcraft said.
In a statement late Thursday Zacharias took issue with the direction Ashcraft and the majority of the commission are going.
"The majority wants to take Johnson County in a more fiscally and socially conservative direction, impose more direct oversight by the commission over county operations, and adopt a more “laissez-faire” attitude toward regulation," he wrote. "Although this governmental decision runs somewhat contrary to the County Charter, I respect it."
Just last month Zacharias was recognized with the Edwin O. Stene Award for Managerial Excellence given by the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration.
Zacharias made $219,665 this year along with a car and cell phone allowance. He also served as co-chair of the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee.