Fiser files challenge for county commission

By The Mercury

A veteran of nearly 40 years in the local political filed for a fifth term on a third different governing body Friday. Dave Fiser, a former two-term member of both the USD 383 Board of Education and the Manhattan City Commission, became the first declared candidate for the third district seat on the Riley County Commission that is now held by Karen McCulloh.

In filing papers committing him to the race, Fiser, a retired executive with the Kansas Farm Bureau, said he was not bringing any particular political agenda.

“I have always been a big supporter of Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University,” Fiser said. Citing his experience, he said, “I think I can offer something” to the County Commission.

Fiser’s announcement was the most prominent of two weekend political developments. The other involved Lee Modesitt, the county Republican Party’s vice chair, who took himself out of consideration for the 67th District race to succeed Rep. Susan Mosier. She is resigning to take a state job. Modesitt said he does not intend to be a candidate when 67th District committeepersons select Mosier’s successor, an action that would require him to relocate his residence. He is still considered a potential candidate to run in the 66th District against Democrat Sydney Carlin, who defeated him in 2010.

No other candidate is likely to put forward a more extensive and lengthy profile than Fiser. Elected to the USD 383 Board of Education in 1973 and re-elected in 1977, he served as that body’s president twice. He followed that up by being elected to the Manhattan City Commission in 1981 and was re-elected in 1985, serving two terms as mayor. He is also a former chairman of the board of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, and in 1991 was named as that body’s “Citizen of the Year.” He is also a former chairman of the United Way campaign here.

A veteran of the military and career Army Reserve officer who retired as a colonel, he is a past commander of the Manhattan American Legion Post.

McCulloh has not yet declared her re-elections, but if she seeks a second term to the office she won in 2010 and if Fiser is nominated as her opponent, the contest may set a long-enduring record for cumulative length of resume. While McCulloh can’t match Fiser’s 16 years of elective service over a 38-year span, she comes close, having served 12 of the past 20 years in various offices. She was first elected to the county commission in 1992, lost a re-election bid in 1996, won a four-year term on the City Commission in 1997, then ousted Bob Newsome — the man who had beaten her 12 years earlier — to regain her county seat in 2008. 

Fiser made a point of saying that he was not running “as a special issue candidate,” and had no laundry list of issues he wanted to pursue. “I am willing to listen to priorities,” he said. He characterized himself as “a fiscal conservative… not a guy to run taxes unnecessarily,” but added he would keep an open mind on tax questions. He said he supported efforts to extend a half cent sales tax in 2012.

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