Sedgwick County Commission races are shaping up to be some of the most interesting elections this year. They also are some the most consequential, as the outcome could shift the control and direction of the commission.
State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, is the latest heavy hitter to enter the race. McGinn served on the commission for six years before being elected to the Legislature in 2004. She is expected to face first-term District 4 Commissioner Richard Ranzau in the GOP primary. Democrat Melody McCray-Miller, a former state representative who served on the commission from 1995 to 1998, is also running in District 4.
So that’s one current commissioner and two former commissioners battling for the same seat.
District 5 also has some big names vying to replace Commissioner Jim Skelton, who isn’t seeking re-election. State Sen. Jim Howell, R-Derby, is slotted against Derby Mayor Dion Avello in the Republican primary. Richard Young, a former mayor of Rose Hill, is running on the Democratic side.
District 1 is the only seat without any suspense – at least not yet. Commission Chairman Dave Unruh has no challenger so far.
The current commission often splits, with Commissioners Unruh, Skelton and Tim Norton on one side and Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn on the other. Peterjohn and Ranzau are critical of economic development incentives, federal grants and county spending. Depending on who wins in November, the commission could shift to a more libertarian view of the role of government.
The races for governor and Kansas secretary of state will get the most attention this year, but local elections also matter. A lot.