Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner is hoping he can replace David Unruh and be a calming force on what has recently been a fairly contentious Sedgwick County Commission.
Meitzner announced his candidacy Tuesday for what will be an open seat, as Unruh has announced he won’t seek re-election in the fall.
If he wins, Meitzner will come onto a commission that has been tempestuous of late.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau has repeatedly accused fellow Commissioner Michael O’Donnell of abusing his position to benefit friends and campaign contributors in real estate deals. O’Donnell has responded by questioning Ranzau’s mental state and asserting that Ranzau is on the verge of losing his seat and lashing out at him in an effort to save it.
Unruh has been sort of the man in the middle, trying to keep things calm, and Meitzner said he sees himself in that sort of role.
“His (Unruh’s) legacy of 16 years of professionalism ... has been many successes and often the calm in the storm that’s been of recent,” Meitzner said. “There’s a strong feeling in the community that what we’re doing in the city and in the region is really moving in the right direction. I can help the county have our oars in the water going the same way as the whole region.”
Meitzner will square off against another familiar political face in the Aug. 7 primary in the 1st District.
Former state Rep. Steve Brunk has declared his candidacy for the seat.
“I hope the voters will see what the value of local leadership is,” Meitzner said.
The district includes parts of central and northeast Wichita, Eastborough, Bel Aire and the northeast corner of the county.
Meitzner can run for commission without having to give up his council seat. But he is term-limited and wouldn’t be able to seek re-election to the council in 2020.
After this year, the 1st District seat won’t come back up for election until 2022.
Meitzner highlights his record of working with others on projects that have “a big and positive impact on the community,” including:
▪ Developing a new terminal at the city-owned Eisenhower National Airport, which was accomplished with federal and user-fee dollars without increasing general taxes.
▪ Working with the state Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority to rebuild the Kellogg/I-35 interchange in east Wichita.