Each month, Eagle Radio in Great Bend will recognize groups or individuals that make a big impact on our community. This Appreciation Month is highlighting the Great Bend City Council.
By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
Life-long Great Bend resident Cody Schmidt believes that in life, there
is always a plan.
After graduating from Great Bend High School in 2004, Schmidt was planning to attend Garden City Community College to play football. His grandfather, whom Schmidt was going to live with while going to college in Garden City, passed away.
“Losing my grandpa, that kind of hit me wrong,” said Schmidt. “I decided not to go to Garden City. I’ve never been away from Great Bend.”
Now married with children, Schmidt’s wife had a chance to transfer jobs to Wichita.
“We went down there for a couple of weeks, looked around, and I realized the big-city life was not for me,” Schmidt said. “Great Bend is all I know.”
Growing up in a family with eight children, Schmidt acknowledges he had to grow up quick as there was not a lot of money to go around. Part of growing up quickly involved landing a full-time job directly out of high school.
“When I decided to not go to Garden City, I started working for the Great Bend school district as summer help,” Schmidt said. “That job turned into a full-time position as the inner office mailman. As an 18-year-old kid, I thought this was a good job with benefits and I liked where I was at.”
Through the years, Schmidt has worked his way up at USD 428 from mailman, to groundskeeper, to bus driver and now the Director of Grounds and Transportation.
“I have a great staff. They make me look good every day. Every day is something new. It is great being involved with the coaches, kids and getting to know everybody.”
In 2019, Cody’s life plan took a turn when he won the November General Election to become the next Great Bend Mayor as a write-in candidate.
“I never thought I would go from a citizen to the mayor,” said Schmidt. “I wanted to start with city council, but I always felt everyone that represented my Ward 3 did a good job. When the mayor position presented itself. I thought I had a fair chance.”
As the mayor for over a year now, Schmidt admits there are still parts of his
role that he is learning. With projects, jobs and ideas from the past, Schmidt
is learning how to follow former leaders’ ideas in order to make the community
“There are things we talked about a year ago that we are just now starting to bring to the table. There is so much time and effort put into plans and sometimes that makes progress slow.”
Being the mayor, Cody says you always have to be ready for change. You may have the bull by the horns one day, but something can get thrown in front of you that quickly changes that.
“No day is ever perfect,” said Schmidt. “There is always going to be curveball. Are you going to take it with a grain of salt? Are you going to fold? How are you going to handle yourself? I always try to stay ready for anything.”
While he does not wear a suit and tie for his job at the school district, Schmidt says he has adjusted his attire to make sure he is always presentable in the public or the media.
Schmidt estimated the time commitment being the mayor is 20 hours a week. On top of 50 hours a week with his full-time job and a family life with two kids, Cody is one busy man.
“There are days that I want to pull my hair out and my blood pressure is probably three times higher than it should be,” Schmidt said. “I think it is the drive that comes with that continues to push me.”
Even with the stress that comes with the role, Schmidt states that he thoroughly enjoys the mayor position. From his days as a child participating in the youth academy and student council, Schmidt loves seeing projects get done to improve his hometown.
“My name will be back on the ballot for mayor,” Schmidt said. “I am not going to spend 20 years at this job, but I definitely think two, three, or four terms would be perfect. Sometimes it takes that long to get things moving in the right direction.”