Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
For the past 4 years I have been employed as the CEO of the Nonprofit Chamber of Service. Prior to my current position, I provided consulting services for small businesses and nonprofit organizations for 3 years and was employed as the Director of Community & Campus Relations at Butler Community College for 12 years. I am a long-time entrepreneur and in recent years founded 2 nonprofits, The Incubator for Nonprofits of Kansas and Parenting Again Club and two businesses, On a Shoestring Marketing and the soon to open Slumber Party Place. My education includes a Bachelor’s of Arts, Communications, Minor in Business Management, Wichita State University; MBA, International Business, Newman University.
Some of my community service includes: District 316 Republican Precinct Committeewoman, Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Wichita/Sedgwick County Comprehensive Planning Committee, Wichita City Council District 3 Advisory Board, City of Wichita South Central Neighborhood Planning Committee, Delano District Planning Committee, Clapp Golf Course Transformation Committee, Wichita Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Coalition, Newman University National Alumni Board of Directors, Newman University Career Services Advisory Board, Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation Education Committee, Junior League of Wichita Board of Directors, Evergreen Community Center Revitalization Committee, Sunlight Children’s Advocacy & Rights Foundation Board of Directors, Wichita/Sedgwick County Crime Stoppers Advisory Board, Wichita Crime Commission Board of Directors, Bethel Life Center First Impressions Team, Museum of World Treasures Advisory Board, Leadership Butler Board of Directors, Wichita Women’s Initiative Board of Directors, African American Coalition, Member League of Women Voters, Member Republican Women United, Member Pachyderm Club, Member Rotary Club of Wichita, Member Junior League of Wichita, Advance Kansas Class of 2011 Alumn, Leadership Butler Class of 2009 Alumn, Leadership Wichita Class of 2017 Alumn, Kansas Leadership Center Alum
I have been married for almost 30 years to my husband, Mark. We have 6 grown kids and 15 grandchildren. We have lived in the district for more than 20 years.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Sedgwick County issue deserves your immediate attention and how do you plan to address it?
Safety and security is a top priority, including ensuring adequate funding for law enforcement but also focusing on how we can better provide affordable, accessible mental health and substance abuse services. Lack of these services including substance abuse treatment programs, is contributing to increasing crime, homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, and has lead to the Sedgwick County Jail being used as an overcrowded mental health facility. I will support and work towards creating a collaboration modeled after Haven for Hope in San Antonio www.havenforhope.org for the purpose of addressing these issues. I currently serve on the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition which is working to address this issue.
What are your thoughts on how the County responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?
In all fairness to our current commissioners, none have prior experience with dealing with a pandemic and there are so many unknowns about this pandemic that I’m sure anyone has the right answers. However, I believe that some have allowed their judgement to be clouded by allowing their decisions to be guided by politics and not by what is best for the county as a whole. Members of the commission wanted to have control to make the best decisions for the county then when given that control the phased opening approach was not adhered to, putting residents and businesses at increased risk. They also failed to continue to implement any limits on gatherings which provided more opportunities for spread. While they were initially able to decrease the spread, I believe lack of continued requirements vs recommendations, is leading to another spike in cases.
I would have carried out the phases and continued to implement restrictions on mass gatherings. I also would explored the best way for the commission to work together to provide a consistent message to the residents and businesses about what actions they need to take and what safety precautions should be implemented. The division in the commission, based on politics, shows. As our cases increase, less people visit our businesses and they continue to suffer as well.
How do you propose to help the local economy recover?
I currently serve on the COVID-19 Community Response Task Force. We are a group of business leaders working to identify what needs to be done to assist with economic recovery and how to best support businesses and nonprofits. First and foremost we have to engage the community in helping us to keep businesses open by practicing safety precautions that will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are working to promote wearing of masks, gloves and 6 foot social distancing. We are also providing information on resources to assist with reopening and this includes helping to find, and/or providing PPE. I will continue to work with this task force to identify and implement other initiatives to help the local economy recover.
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
I think it is important to raise awareness of, and to promote that Black Lives Matter. This movement is a reminder that discrimination still exists and we need to continue to identify how we can address discrimination in our society.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
We need to have conversations around these issues and develop strategies to address them. Several years ago I completed a diversity leadership program, Advance Kansas, which helped me to gain a better understanding of diversity, biases and racism. As we work to improve diversity, we need to consider not only racial diversity, but diversity of gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, income-level, political party, etc. I would also support an initiative to focus on developing more diverse boards and committees in the county. Too often I have sat on a board or committee and looked around the room to only see people that look like me and it’s not representative of the residents in out county. We must do better. I also believe we can’t address racism if we don’t make it a specific focus. We need to find ways to educate our community about racism and train them on how to make changes.
Are you in favor of law enforcement reform? If so, what should it look like?
Yes I am in favor of reform following the recommendations recently made by the Wichita Police Department. While I don’t support defunding law enforcement, we need some changes. These changes include a re-evaluation of the use of force as well as deadly force and what techniques can be used in lieu of the current techniques. Providing additional training for law enforcement especially in regards to de-escalation strategies. Implementing procedures that protect law enforcement officers that report other officers for potential wrong-doing. Providing increased transparency related to discipline of law enforcement officers. Embedding more social workers within departments that can respond to mental health related calls which our officers spend a lot of time responding to.
Describe your vision for Sedgwick County’s future and how you plan to achieve it.
My vision is for Sedgwick County to be a place that residents love to live and can thrive in an economic environment that is strong with diverse employment opportunities. It must also be a place that offers affordable housing, vibrant neighborhoods, walkable communities, cultural arts and recreation, retail outlets, outstanding educational opportunities, and access to services.
I plan to achieve this vision by providing guidance on planning initiatives, supporting recruitment and development of businesses in Sedgwick County, as well as working to implement the priorities outlined in the 20-year Community Investments Plan that I helped to create. I also plan to work to identify funding and develop partnerships that can help with implementation of these initiatives.