Ranzau suggests evening meetings

Before he became a Sedgwick County commissioner, Richard Ranzau sometimes wished he could speak to the board about an issue of particular interest to him.

But like most people, he worked during the day.

Now Ranzau wants to try to have some commission meetings in the evenings to better involve people who might not be able to take time off from their jobs.

Ranzau suggested Tuesday that the board meet occasionally at night. He said if no other commissioners are interested, he'll still have town hall-type meetings for his constituents.

But other commissioners seem open to the idea, and County Manager William Buchanan said he would make some recommendations to the board.

Commissioner Tim Norton said he wasn't sure the courthouse, which is where the board meets at 9 a.m. Wednesdays, would be the best location for an evening meeting. Having the courthouse open at night would require security to be on hand, which would be an expense to taxpayers, he said.

Norton said that "the devil's in the details" but that he would be open to looking at a night meeting.

Ranzau said he had talked during his campaign for office about having a night meeting once a month. But he said he would be open to having one each quarter.

He said he remembered sometimes thinking, "I wish they had some things in the evening so I could participate" before he took office.

It's possible not many people would show up at a night commission meeting, he said, but "if we put ourselves out there and nobody shows up, at least we've availed ourselves to people," Ranzau said.

And if a lot of people showed up and meetings ran late, then "what's that tell us? That there is a desire out there to address government but the timing of our meetings is an impediment."

The commission has held public hearings at night on issues of wide interest such as fireworks.

The Wichita City Council does not meet at night, but council members do participate in district advisory board and other meetings in the evenings.