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Cruse wants to focus on family as her time on the County Commission ends

lacey cruse.jpg
Kylie Cameron
/
KMUW
Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse.

Lacey Cruse lost her reelection bid this week to Ryan Baty.

After four years on the Sedgwick County Commission – half of it during a global pandemic – 4th District Commissioner Lacey Cruse said she just wants to relax and focus on her family.

Cruse lost her reelection bid Tuesday to Republican Ryan Baty.

“If anybody's ever run a campaign before, it's intense,” Cruse said.

“It's 24/7, and really, you know, being a commissioner is 24/7. So doing commission duties on top of running a campaign and trying to take care of my family is… it's a lot. So I'm resting right now.”

Cruse ran for office in 2018 as a first-time candidate during the Blue Wave – when some voters were more energized to vote for Democratic female candidates.

“I think the difference between these two races is, I was new to the scene … the Republican establishment here in this state didn't take me seriously during my first campaign,” Cruse said.

“It was kind of like, ‘Who's this little girl ... running this campaign?’

“That's kind of how I was treated … I was really discounted.”

Reflecting on her time on the commission since then, a lot has happened.

“We had two years of a global pandemic,” Cruse said. “We had a lot of social unrest, we had a child die in our custody. We had an infusion of funds that we had to disseminate throughout the community.”

There’s also the reflection of the lessons she’s learned – too many in the short amount of time for an interview – and the short list of things she would have done differently.

“I think for the most part, I would have to say that I don't know that there's much I would do differently,” Cruse said.

“I guess if I had to say … one thing that I would change, it's prioritizing my time a little bit better so that my family didn't have to sacrifice as much,” said Cruse, who has two daughters.

And that’s what she’s focusing on for now – her family.

“My two daughters really have sacrificed the most out of all of us in this, and they have really shown me what it's like to be patient,” Cruse said. “And it's very odd in the sense that my daughters really have been so understanding and just huge supporters and advocates of mine.

I just truly am thankful that we all made it out … alive of this because this was a brutal thing to go through. But we learned a lot of lessons, and I think it's brought us closer and now we will just be able to focus on each other.”

As far as future plans, Cruse said she’s not ready yet to share those. She didn’t rule out a future run for public office – but not any time soon.

“I set out to do two things: I set out to do the right things, no matter the personal consequence. And I set out to inspire more women to run for office,” she said. “And I've done that, and I will continue to do that because that's who I am.

“I'm excited to see what other women step up to the plate and run for office. And I hope to be there to support them when they do.”

Cruse expects a smooth transition when Baty takes office in January.

“I think during the campaign trail, we have a lot of things that we do align on,” Cruse said, “and so this isn't about status, for me. This is about moving the community forward.”

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.