Great Bend City Council member, attorney and native Great Bend resident Marty Keenan has announced his plans to leave the community, moving to Hastings, Neb., where he will teach political science and international relations.
“I’ve accepted a full-time teaching position at Central Community College,” Keenan said Wednesday afternoon. He will resign his seat on the council in the coming weeks and prepare for his new job.
He was elected to the council on April 3 to serve the Second Ward.
“I hate leaving Great Bend and I hate leaving the council,” he said. But, with many colleges undergoing budget cuts, these positions are “as rare as ice in the Sahara Desert.”
So, with he and his wife Julie’s last son headed to the University of Kansas this fall, the time to move was right.
The 51-year-old Keenan graduated from KU. He said he had the opportunity to get his doctorate in political science, or a law degree and return to Great Bend and join the family business – Keenan Law Firm.
He gladly chose the latter.
But, a few years ago, thanks to Dr. Rick Abel at Barton Community College, he started teaching a political science course. “That got my foot in the door,” he said.
That led to teaching gigs at Dodge City Community College and Fort Hays State University. “I hopped around quite at bit.”
He realized he’d been bitten by the teaching bug and started looking around for a full-time opening. “I realized how much I liked it.”
Keenan first interviewed in Hastings last winter, but the job went to someone else. However, that person left after one semester and it reopened.
“I was as shocked as anybody else,” he said. “It’s terrible to leave Great Bend, but I couldn’t pass this up.”
Jobs like this most often go to applicants who have more experience, educational background or who are younger, he said.
“I’ve never lived anywhere but Kansas,” the fifth-generation Great Bend resident said. “This is a happy-sad situation.”
Now, there is a vacancy on the council. According to Great Bend City Attorney Bob Suelter, the City Council and the mayor would accept applications for Keenan’s replacement on the governing body. After a determined amount of time, the council would then make a selection in an open meeting.
Council positions are non-partisan positions.
As of Wednesday afternoon, city officials had not received official notification from Keenan.
Keenan was born and raised in Great Bend, graduated from Great Bend High School in 1978, and has practiced law in his hometown since 1988.
Keenan and Julie have been married since 1989. They have two sons: Tyler, a junior at Kansas State University, and Jeff who starts attending KU this fall.
Since returning to Great Bend, Keenan served as president of Kiwanis, president of the Board of Directors of Family Crisis Center, and currently serves as treasurer of the Barton County Arts Council. Keenan served as the Teen Court Judge from 1996-2001, served as secretary of the Barton County Young Men’s Organization, and also served on the Golden Belt Red Cross Board of Directors.
At the state level, Keenan is currently a board member of “Friends of Cedar Crest,” a group in charge of preserving and improving the Governor’s Mansion in Topeka. Keenan also served six years as a board member of the Kansas Humanities Council, and served on the “Kansas Department of Transportation Project Selection Task Force.” Also, Keenan served as a member of the “Facilities Closure and Realignment Commission,” a state commission which made recommendations to the legislature about cost savings at state facilities.