Saying that Karl Peterjohn wastes too much time on partisan ranting, Goddard Mayor Marcey Gregory announced Monday that she will seek a rematch for his seat on the Sedgwick County Commission.
Gregory, who lost to Peterjohn as a Democrat in 2008, will run this time as an independent candidate and is launching a petition drive to collect the 2,500 signatures she’ll need to be on the ballot as a nonpartisan candidate. The heavily Republican district covers much of west Wichita and several smaller cities in the western part of the county.
At a news conference with about a dozen supporters, Gregory said she’s troubled by a commission majority that she says neglects local needs while regularly using the county’s communications platform and televised meetings to advance their own partisan opinions on federal and state issues.
“I think it’s a pointless waste of time,” Gregory said. “I think they’re wasting taxpayers’ money by being there and having county staff there being paid and they’re not acomplishing much of anything. That’s my biggest criticism.”
For example, she cited a 13-minute speech and slide show on Islamic terrorism that Peterjohn presented at the Nov. 18 meeting.
Peterjohn warned Sedgwick County residents to prepare themselves for Islamic terrorism, criticized President Obama for separating the terrorism from the religion, and decried the “awful amount of Muhammads who have engaged in a whole host of heinous and vile and despicable acts.”
Gregory called it a pointless rant.
“Sedgwick County has experienced some extreme economic challenges.” she said. “And rather than actively and progressively creating policy to encourage business growth, he (Peterjohn) prefers to give history lessons or complain about the problems created by the federal government or rant about the Islamic threat.”
Peterjohn said that “public feedback continues to be very good from people in my district” and that the issues he raises are issues that affect people here.
For example, he cited the conservative commission majority’s continuing support of a state bill requiring a vote of the electorate to increase local government spending by more than a state-adjusted consumer price index. Supporting the cap has put Sedgwick County at odds with nearly every other local government body in the state.
“People continue to be concerned about property taxes,” Peterjohn said. “The other side calls it (the state bill) a tax lid. I call it voter empowerment.”
Gregory’s campaign will mark the first time Peterjohn has faced an independent candidate.
In 2008, Peterjohn ousted incumbent Tom Winters in the Republican primary and went on to defeat Gregory 55 percent to 45 percent in the general election.
In 2012, he beat fellow Republican Jeff Longwell 56 percent to 43 percent in a Republican primary and was unopposed in the general election. Longwell, then a Wichita City Council member, was elected three years later as Wichita mayor.