INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The city of Independence is getting a new mayor.
It comes at a time when the suburb is dealing with a police department overtime scandal. Missouri State Rep. Rory Rowland won a convincing victory Tuesday night, weeks after current Mayor Eileen Weir announced she would not campaign for re-election.
Rowland talked with FOX4 about key issues, what must happen and how he plans to clean up his city.
Rowland said he has a mandate to lead now and will use that to be a change maker. Still rocking his New Balances that he said he walked to more than 6,000 doors, ready to flip the script.
“The way that you’re a change maker is you change the language. Leadership is language and I will change the language,” Rowland said.
The issues at the top of his agenda can be surmised as simple as clean out the old, bring in the new and staff, those sworn to serve and protect.
“We’re going to have a code of conduct for elected officials, those are the most important things right off the bat. How do we get more police officers to protect us in the city? That’s the most important key right there,” he said.
Hanging over the city and over the election that Rowland just won, a police scandal that saw hundreds uof thousands of tax payers dollars being paid in excessive overtime to police for repair work.
Rowland said the excessive overtime problem stretches past just the police department.
“We can’t manage the secret. The things that have happened, have happened because people have allowed them to happen. I’m not going to allow that to happen,” he said.
The man who has come under fire from city council members and the citizens of Independence, City Manager Zach Walker, a position that the incoming mayor said will have to be reviewed.
“We’re going to evaluate everything, including the city manager position, but we’ll evaluate everything,” Rowland said.
Rowland, a part of Missouri’s fifth largest city for more than 40 years, calls his new job a dream job and with one thankful message to his constituents.
“I am so honored to serve and to be the mayor of Harry Truman’s hometown. It is absolutely a dream of a lifetime. I cannot thank them enough for what they’ve done,” Rowland said.
Rowland will assume the position on April 18.
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