Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer laughed off rumors Monday that he’s considering a run this fall for Richard Ranzau’s District 4 seat on the Sedgwick County Commission.
But the mayor acknowledged that he has been approached about running, and the two candidates already in the race – Ranzau, a Republican, and Melody McCray-Miller, a Democrat – said they had heard Brewer is interested in the seat.
“No, I’m not ... as of now,” Brewer said, laughing uproariously when asked if he’s running for the county job. “You’d have to tell my wife. She’s ready for me to return to private life.”
District 4 covers the north-central part of Sedgwick County, including Park City and Valley Center.
Brewer’s city term, which pays him about $83,000 a year, expires April 15, 2015. He’s wrapping up two four-year mayoral terms, plus a term on the City Council before that. County commissioners get about $83,000 a year, plus a car allowance.
Brewer is a Democrat. If he ran, that could set up a primary against McCray-Miller, a former state representative who held the county seat from 1995 to 1998.
Ranzau and McCray-Miller said they’d welcome Brewer to the race. Ranzau, a Republican who is in his first term as a commissioner, said telephone polling in his district has included Brewer’s name in the District 4 race.
He said Brewer’s entrance wouldn’t be a surprise, with Democrats and some Republicans searching for more moderate county commission alternatives after incumbent Republican Jim Skelton’s decision not to seek re-election in District 5. Republican state Rep. Jim Howell has filed for that seat in southeast Sedgwick County.
“The more progressive people, the liberals, the big-spenders,” Ranzau said. “I have heard rumors that various entities are trying to recruit Republican candidates to oppose me in the primary. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Republican challenges me because of my position on corporate welfare.”
Ranzau frequently votes against public incentives for private developers, and has opposed accepting federal grants for a variety of local programs.
McCray-Miller said she has heard Brewer is taking a look at the race.
“I have no problem with that,” she said. “I’m not running against someone. I’m running for something. He would have no impact on my plans.”
Ranzau said he’d put his record on the commission against any prospective opponent.
“I think I have a track record of challenging whatever our staff tells me, taking an in-depth look at our spending,” he said. “I do my homework. I find out the facts.”
Ranzau said his record will be distinct from either Democrat in the general election.
“The voters will certainly have a choice, regardless of whether it’s Melody McCray-Miller or the mayor,” he said. “It’s two distinct choices.”