Dave Unruh will lead the Sedgwick County Commission in 2017.
Unruh was approved unanimously by 2015 chairman Richard Ranzau, 2016 chairman Jim Howell and new commissioners David Dennis and Michael O’Donnell.
Unruh, a Republican, is in his fourth term as a commissioner. He represents District 1, which includes central and east Wichita, Eastborough, Bel Aire and Kechi. He also served as chairman in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2014.
“My focus as chairman will be that we continue our collaboration in the community, strengthen partnerships and work together, all the while being transparent,” Unruh said.
Unruh was a frequent critic of the commission majority during the past two years.
My focus as chairman will be that we continue our collobaration in the community, strengthen partnerships and work together, all the while being transparent.
Dave Unruh, new Sedgwick County Commission chairman
But tensions over past disagreements were not present Wednesday. Unruh thanked Ranzau and Howell for their past service as chairmen. And Ranzau nominated Unruh for the position.
“(Unruh) has demonstrated a tremendous ability as a statesman and as a leader here in the commission,” Howell said before passing the gavel to Unruh. “I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot listening to you for the next year.”
Howell nominated O’Donnell as chair pro-tem of the board, touting his work on the Wichita City Council and in the Kansas Senate. His nomination was also approved unanimously.
“I’m very excited about this new endeavor,” O’Donnell said. “I just appreciate the vote of confidence for the new guy.”
“There’s been too much division on the board for the last couple of years,” he added.
The chairman leads meetings of the board; his vote does not carry any more weight than the other four commissioners’. The chair pro-tem leads meetings when the chairman is absent.
I’ve felt we’ve done a great job this year collectively as a board.
Jim Howell, outgoing Sedgwick County chairman
It was the last commission meeting as chairman for Howell, who is in his first term representing southeastern Sedgwick County.