WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Rotary Club hosted a forum on Monday, Oct. 17, for Sedgwick County Board Commissioner candidates to talk about marijuana and other issues.
One of the topics at the forum was how Sedgwick County should handle marijuana cases after the City of Wichita’s decision to stop prosecuting in municipal court.
District 1 Challenger Kelli Grant (Dem) says she can see a benefit to no longer prosecuting small possession cases.
“I think we are losing young talent to other states around us that have either medical or recreational and, or recreational use of marijuana,” Grant said. “I think it’s a drain on our community, and I think we can see some benefit if we follow suit.”
Current District 1 County Commissioner Pete Meitzner (Rep) says he wants to see what the City’s decision will do to the court system first.
“As long as the jail and the court system is not impacted adversely, then locally, I think we’re going to be OK,” Meitzner said. “But, if we are impacted, and if Marc Bennett has to put staff to do all this, then it has to be re-looked at and worked together on.”
Economic development is an issue for all candidates. District 1 candidates talked about whether financial incentives should be used to drive business.
“When we can get government and business and business and government and education, good things happen,” said Meitzner. “Most recently, with the $51 million award at WSU, because we are the leader in advanced manufacturing.”
“I am committed to expanding on economic development, but we need to take a critical look at handouts for wealthy developers. We need to make sure we are benefiting all constituents and all residents of district one and Sedgwick County when we make those decisions,” said Grant.
Homelessness and housing issues
District 4 includes much of central and north Wichita and towns north of Wichita.
Candidates were able to square off on how to handle homelessness and housing issues in the district.
“I believe when we can encourage development in an ethical and responsible way, we can see where development can play a huge part in making sure our unhoused community has a place to go,” said Current District 4 County Commissioner Lacey Cruse (Dem). “But, you can’t just put somebody in a house and expect them to be well. You have to help them.”
“The City is taking the lead on this. My approach would be instead of standing up a new division in the county to handle these things, I’d lean into the City of Wichita in particular and help to reinforce what they are doing in partnership instead of trying to stand something up with the county itself,” District 4 Challenger Ryan Baty (Rep) said.
One issue discussed for District 5, in the southern part of the county, was addressing flood control issues.
“We need to get some area where we can slow down the amount of rain coming in,” said District 5 Challenger John McIntosh (Dem). “Because the rivers going to be what it is, but a lot of the other streams that come in through the town can be slowed down by putting retention pond areas in other parts of the county north of Derby.”
“With regards to Spring Creek water basin that floods Derby, we actually did a study on that, and it’s going to take somewhere between half billion to a billion dollars to address that, really,” said current District 5 County Commissioner Jim Howell (Rep). “So, it’s great to talk about ideas, but where’s the money going to come from?”
Tuesday, Oct. 18, is the last day to register to vote for the general election.
To read up on candidate profiles, click here.