Duties of the County Commissioners
The Riley County Commissioners meet twice a week to discuss and conduct county business. During these meetings, they are responsible for:
• Approving the budget
• Adopting personnel policies and payment plans for all county offices
• Providing for adequate county government facilities
• Setting tax levies
• Determining township boundaries
• Making citizen appointments to county boards
In addition to these responsibilities, they take on the roles of legislator, public manager, community leader, citizen liaison, inter-local diplomat, and federal and state lobbyist.
An important aspect of being a county commissioner is citizenship responsibilities. They are required to interpret county government decisions, communicate constituents’ needs and preferences to the commission, hear and resolve complaints about county services and communicate with citizen board appointees.
John Ford (R), Chair
Term of Office: Term expires January 2027
John Ford is currently serving his second term as Riley County Commissioner, after being elected in November 2018.
Ford was born in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1977 and has been a resident of Manhattan for more than 35 years. He is currently employed at Florence Corporation here in Manhattan and has worked for the organization in various roles since 2015. Ford graduated from Manhattan High School in 1995 and went on to attend Manhattan Area Technical College (MATC) and Kansas State University (KSU), where he majored in Construction Science. He has also lived in Kentucky and Ohio.
Ford’s interest in politics and governance started in college and he served as Student Body Vice President of the Student Government Association during his time at MATC.
John Ford’s political service also includes:
- City of Manhattan Social Service Advisory Board (2012-2018), Vice Chair for 4 years
- Riley County FEMA Board (2013-2018)
- Service on several local as well as Congressional and US Senate Campaigns
Ford is an avid fan of sports and supports both Kansas State University and University of Kentucky athletics. In his spare time enjoys watching football, baseball, and college basketball, as well as reading, music and, of course, politics.
Greg McKinley (R), Vice-Chair
Term of Office: Term expires January 2025
Greg McKinley (Republican) is currently serving his first term as County Commissioner. He was elected in November of 2020.
Greg was born and raised in Topeka and graduated from Topeka High School in 1970.
He attended Kansas State University and graduated with a degree in Construction Science. A lifetime Wildcat fan, Greg’s Grandfather graduated in Civil Engineering from Kansas State in 1933.
Greg married his wife Jana in 1975. They have four children and seven grandchildren.
Greg and Jana have lived in Riley since 2006 and previously lived in Manhattan for 19 years.
Greg has worked as an estimator and project manager for commercial contractors in Manhattan, Leavenworth, Ft Riley and Riley and retired in March 2020.
For five years Greg and Jana owned and operated McKinley Mercantile in Riley.
Greg has served on the Riley City Commission for ten years and served as President of the Council for the last six years.
Kathryn Focke (D), Member
Term of Office: Term expires January 2025
Kathryn Focke (Democrat) is currently serving her first term as County Commissioner. She was elected in November of 2020.
Commissioner Kathryn Focke is a third and fourth-generation Kansan and longtime Riley County resident. Her great-grandparents and grandparents were German immigrants who homesteaded in Rawlins County in the late 1800s. Her great-grandmother was one of a few women to file a homestead application in her own name in Kansas.
After graduating from high school in Atwood, KS, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college and is a proud KSU alumna. Ms. Focke’s substantial community service contributions include serving as a co-founder and current board member of Common Table, where she also helps with meal preparation and distribution at the community meals. She also helped to establish the FIT Closet and has worked with the KSU Food Recovery Team.
Kathryn is an active member of the First Lutheran Church in Manhattan.
Commissioner Focke has 35 years of design/construction experience, specializing in kitchen and bath design. Ms. Focke established a showroom in downtown Manhattan in 2004 and served on the Downtown Manhattan Business Advisory Board and the Downtown Business Association. She taught as an adjunct professor in Kansas State’s nationally-ranked Department of Interior Design. Currently, she consults on kitchen and bath design projects and interior space planning.
As one of the earlier women to enter the world of residential construction and professional kitchen and bathroom designers, Kathryn earned the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s certifications as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), Certified Bath Designer (CBD) and the industry’s highest certification, the Certified Master Kitchen and Bathroom Designer (CMKBD).
She also holds certificates in AC/DC Electrical, Architectural Drafting, Universal Design, Healthy Living, and Project Management.
Commissioner Focke served for thirteen years as the Riley County Democratic Party chair. She has worked on numerous local and state campaigns, including Governors Kathleen Sebelius and Laura Kelly. She served as the Kansas Democratic Party’s Vice-Chair and Interim State Chair from 2015-2017, has received awards for exemplary leadership and has been a delegate to two presidential conventions.
County Commissioner Kathryn Focke is committed to open communication and accountability in government – at all levels. She values and encourages citizen participation in our local government, and is committed to working alongside her neighbors to ensure that Riley County is a great place to live for all of us.