O’Donnell resigns after DA investigation; Sedgwick County Commissioners weigh in on his decision

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SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County District Attorney concluded Friday that based on findings of a recent investigation, there is evidence which indicates ouster proceedings are appropriate against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell.

In response to this communication, Commissioner O’Donnell, through counsel, indicated his intent to resign from his position prior to 5 p.m. November 13, 2020, effectively terminating the need for official ouster proceedings.

In a news release from Sedgwick County, O’Donnell released the following statement Friday evening:

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve in the greatest community and work for the wonderful people of Sedgwick County these last four years.  I am proud and humbled by how much we have accomplished, even in unprecedented times, for this region, county, and my district.  Thank you to my parents and family, friends, colleagues, and supporters for your love, guidance, and support.  I look forward to this next journey in my life.”

Michael O’Donnell

Those who work alongside O’Donnell chimed in on his resignation.

“We had no advanced notice whatsoever,” Commissioner David Dennis said. “I sent him a quick text and told him I was praying for him and wished him well in his future.”

Commissioner Jim Howell says O’Donnell’s decision could serve as a reset for everyone.

“We have got to have ethical behavior from everyone in leadership, and I’m sorry this whole thing has happened. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned here. I just hope that we can move towards healing.”

For Commissioner Lacey Cruse she says it is time to move on from the situation.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, we have to not forget that. This is another distraction and one that is taking us away from focusing on the things that we really need to be focusing on.”

Sedgwick County stated that state statutes and established processes govern the replacement of any vacancy of the county commission office. If Commissioner O’Donnell does not win the District II election, a replacement will be elected by the Republican precinct committee and be appointed by the governor to serve until January 10 when the newly appointed commissioner is sworn into office.  If Commissioner O’Donnell is elected to serve a new term, the Republican precinct committee will elect a new person to fill that vacancy and will be appointed by the governor.    

“Frankly this gives us a chance to have a Republican that is trustworthy and can earn the public trust even in a short window of time,” David Thorne, chairman of the Sedgwick County Republican Party said.

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