Tonganoxie mayor accused of conflict of interest by opponents of - KCTV5 News

Tonganoxie mayor accused of conflict of interest by opponents of Tyson project

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Mayor Jason Ward Mayor Jason Ward

Opponents of a Tyson Foods poultry plant want to make sure the Tonganoxie mayor is not involved in any future decisions.

They question Mayor Jason Ward's initial involvement during the announcement of the project.

KCTV5 requested an interview with Ward to discuss voters’ concerns that he works for a law firm that represents Tyson Foods.

He provided a more than two-page copy of his comments on the issue from the last city council meeting.

“How disconcerting was it to find out that our Tonganoxie mayor works for a law firm with Tyson?,” an opponent said into a microphone during a recent meeting about the project. 

Ward said he never worked on matters for Tyson Foods, nor did he have any contact with Tyson Foods in 18 years at his firm, Shook, Hardy and Bacon. 

Bryan Zesiger says the secrecy of the Tyson announcement, coupled with Ward's employment, made many voters skeptical of Ward's ability to make decisions on the issue. 

"I believe you start to look at the ethics of where is your impartiality?" Zesiger said. 

Ward added he will also not participate in any votes regarding the Tyson project. 

"Out of respect for the process and to allay any possible concerns of a conflict, I am choosing not to preside over the portions of meetings in which the Tyson project is discussed," he said. 

Earlier this week, Tyson announced the project is on hold after Leavenworth County commissioners voted to rescind $500 million in industrial revenue bonds to help finance the project. 

The full comments from Ward: 

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