New Year brings new leadership to Sedgwick County


SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s the New Year and that means new leadership is taking over.

As of Sunday, Jan. 8, two new commissioners will take office and they hope to make some changes across Sedgwick County.

KSN spoke with the commissioners elect, Michael O’Donnell and David Dennis to learn what they have planned for 2017.

After he’s sworn in, O’Donnell will represent District 2, including Haysville, Clearwater and parts of south and southwest Wichita.

There’s a number of issues on the table so KSN asked O’Donnell what his top priority is going into 2017.

“Our top priority is always going to be public safety, making sure that all the infrastructure that the county has, whether that’s our EMS, our sheriff’s office, our fire department, that when the public looks at local government, public safety is always the top issue,” O’Donnell said.

He added that his top priority of public safety is closely followed by jobs and the local economy.

The county’s agenda is set for 2017 but there was some debate over whether it should pass before or after the new commissioners are sworn in.

KSN asked O’Donnell how he felt about the matter and he said it’s not something he’s concerned with.

O’Donnell explained that he feels agendas are living documents that can always be amended and adjusted later.

There’s already a few goals he said he’s ready to tackle this year.

“I think Sedgwick County, we’re at a pivotal time right now with our economy and we have not been growing our relationships the way we should,” he said. “I think there’s been way too much division and that’s particularly with the City of Wichita.”

After November’s election, we talked about how the switch up in the county commission could affect some of Sedgwick County’s biggest issues.

A lot of it comes down to how commissioners elect, Michael O’Donnell and David Dennis will vote.

Before the election, the Sedgwick County commission was made up of three conservative commissioners, a moderate and a Democrat.

Now, a win by Republicans Michael O’Donnell and David Dennis could change the outcome of some major topics facing the commission like budget cuts, public health and WIC, the program that provides federal grants to states for nutrition and education to women, infants and children.

One issue that District 3 commissioner elect, David Dennis has fought strongly for is the Sedgwick County Zoo and its partnership and funding with the county.

Last week, Dennis told KSN he doesn’t agree with the idea to see more county representation on the zoo board.

He says the current configuration of the zoo board has worked well over the years.

In 2017, Dennis said he’d like to put focus into schools and Fire District One.

KSN will speak with Dennis live on Kansas Today this morning at 6:30.

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