Politics & Government

Sedgwick County Commission looking at more evening meetings outside downtown

Sedgwick County Commission
Sedgwick County Commission File photo

Sedgwick County is exploring ways to hold more commission meetings in the evening out in the county’s five districts.

New commission chairman Jim Howell said it’s an effort to boost community engagement with county government issues.

“I would like to see us be connected to our communities a little bit better,” Howell said Tuesday at his first county staff meeting as chairman. “We’ve got to be more engaged with the public.”

He said the County Commission’s normal meeting time, 9 a.m. Wednesdays, prevents many people from attending.

“Our meetings are not that well attended, in my opinion,” Howell said. “And I think our community rarely sees us in action.”

“For the folks that work, they have very little ability to watch our meetings live or to engage commissioners unless they take off work,” he added.

Howell said the county should look at spreading out a couple of meetings a year in each commissioner’s district. The commission normally meets in the Sedgwick County Courthouse on Main Street in downtown Wichita.

The proposal could lead to commission meetings in surrounding cities like Derby, Park City, Bel Aire and Haysville.

The plan could come with some technical challenges involving security, logging meeting minutes and rebroadcasting commission meetings.

Commissioner Dave Unruh said they need to find out if the change is worth the trouble.

“We would want to find out if there’s a demand for it,” Unruh said.

Sedgwick County Manager Michael Scholes said the county should find an ideal venue for a test run.

“Let’s start with the perfect solution and see what kind of response that generates and go from there,” Scholes said.

Howell also expressed interest in starting newsletters for each commissioner.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar