Welshimer files for re-election in 5th District

Saying she wants tax revenue from southeast Sedgwick County to be used there, Commissioner Gwen Welshimer filed Friday to run for re-election to the 5th District seat.

Downtown redevelopment is the top issue in the race, said Welshimer, a Democrat. The Intrust Bank Arena sales tax and decades of property tax incentives downtown "have been a weight around the neck of my district."

Welshimer said she wants tax money paid by southeast Wichita, Derby and Mulvane to be used for paving roads, drainage, infrastructure, traffic controls, township assistance and 5th District business district enhancements.

"I will support redevelopment of downtown through private investment only in the future," she said.

Welshimer announced her candidacy outside the Historic County Courthouse across the street from the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

She said she wants more property tax reduction and will continue to work for "safe, sensible and reasonable alternatives to a costly new jail."

Welshimer has sparred with Sheriff Robert Hinshaw over the jail's rising population. Earlier this week she was the only commissioner to vote against spending $2 million more to house inmates outside the county and cover inmates' health care the rest of the year.

Welshimer also said she wants to work to help the Kansas Coliseum reach its potential to create 1,000 new jobs and $10 million in new revenue over the next five years.

Welshimer was elected to the commission in 2006.

"I have not been a commissioner who gives in to the out-of-touch 'good old boy' network," she said.

Welshimer said she is ready for a "rigorous campaign."

Two Republicans have announced plans to run for the seat. Derby Mayor Dion Avello has filed, and Derby City Council member Chuck Warren has said he plans to file.

Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton, a Republican, said he is considering a run.