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New Leadership Elected For Sedgwick County Commission

Deborah Shaar
The Board of Sedgwick County Commission holds their meeting Wednesday. From left, Michael O’Donnell, David Dennis, Jim Howell, Richard Ranzau and Dave Unruh.";

Sedgwick County commissioners elected their 2017 leaders at a meeting Wednesday morning.

Dave Unruh, who represents the 1st District, will serve as commission chairman; this will be his fifth time in the position.

Credit Deborah Shaar / KMUW
KMUW/File photo
Dave Unruh, 1st District representative, is elected Sedgwick County Commission Chairman for 2017.

New commissioner Michael O’Donnell, the 2nd District representative, is chair pro-tem. Both were elected by a unanimous vote.

Unruh is already looking into revisiting some partnerships that the county dropped in recent years. He said his initial priorities will be strengthening relationships and partnerships with the City of Wichita and other community agencies.

He is working to get Sedgwick County to renew its membership in the Regional Area Economic Partnership (REAP), the economic development group that serves south-central Kansas.

"I’ve asked the executive director to come make a presentation so that everyone understands what REAP is about, and how beneficial it is, and how it’s respected in our whole region," Unruh said.

REAP is a voluntary coalition of more than two dozen cities and counties that work together to strengthen the region’s economy. The county withdrew from the coalition in 2015, about the same time it ended its membership in the National Association of Counties.

Credit Deborah Shaar / KMUW
Outgoing Commission Chairman Jim Howell presents the 2016 Chairman Award to Earnest Alexander, president of Youth Horizons.

Unruh said county commissioners decided earlier this week to rejoin that national organization. He said the National Association of Counties is a professional organization that will be beneficial to Sedgwick County and its staff.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, outgoing Commission Chairman Jim Howell presented the 2016 Chairman Award to Youth Horizons president Earnest Alexander. The organization provides mentoring and residential programs for at-risk children.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.