Wichita health groups are sponsoring a forum for candidates in the three Sedgwick County Commission districts up for election. Tuesday’s event will focus on public health issues.
Voters will elect commissioners to serve four-year terms in the 1st, 4th and 5th Districts this year.
Candidates are expected to discuss strategies for access to health care, perspectives on outside funding, collaborative opportunities to improve community health, and the role of the Board of Health.
The Medical Society of Sedgwick County is one of eight health organizations sponsoring the forum. Medical Society Executive Director Phillip Brownlee says elected leaders play an important role in the overall health outcomes in a community.
“It’s not just about physicians and our great providers and hospitals, public policy also impacts our health in many different ways,” Brownlee says.
The Sedgwick County Commissioners are in charge of the county health department and act as the Board of Health.
Current Commissioners Richard Ranzau, 4th District, and Jim Howell, 5th District, are seeking re-election while Dave Unruh decided to leave the commission. He represented the 1st District for 16 years.
Brownlee says knowing where elected leaders stand on health issues is important.
“There are many issues related to public health such as smoking in public places, food deserts, access to care, exercise options — all of these fall often into the realm of public policy. Those decisions many times are made by state and local officials,” he says.
The public health forum is Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Venue 332 at the Scottish Rite in downtown Wichita.
Tuesday’s event is sponsored by Health Alliance, Health ICT, Health & Wellness Coalition of Wichita, Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Medical Society of Sedgwick County, Project Access/Central Plains Health Care Partnership, Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care, Wichita Medical Research & Education Foundation.
A similar candidate health forum was held two years ago prior to the 2016 election for Sedgwick County’s 2nd and 3rd District seats.