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With Slim Lead Over O'Donnell, Lopez Wins Sedgwick County Commission Race

Deborah Shaar
Democrat Sarah Lopez defeated Republican Michael O'Donnell for the 2nd District commissioner race.


Voters elected Democrat Sarah Lopez to a four-year term on the Sedgwick County Commission.

Official election results certified Monday confirm Lopez won the close 2nd District race over Republican Michael O’Donnell by 264 votes.

After initially leading the race on election night, Lopez trailed O’Donnell once all precincts were tallied. As mail ballots were processed in the days following Election Day, Lopez regained the lead in the race by 125 votes.

Her victory came from provisional ballots that were counted during the vote canvass process this weekend.

"We won by 264 votes, which was an extremely small margin," Lopez told supporters in a statement released on social media. "So when I said, 'Every vote mattered,' I meant it. So thank you all so much for your support."

This is Lopez's first political campaign. She is a regional manager for health care technology for Ascension Via Christi. She lives in Haysville with her three children.

When Lopez takes office Jan. 10, she will be one of two women and two Democrats on the County Commission. 

"I’m so excited to get started," Lopez said Monday.

Lopez's win caps off a tumultuous few weeks in the race. A political scandal involving O’Donnell unraveled in mid-October with the release of an audio recording from 2019. He and two elected officials, outgoing Republican state Rep. Michael Capps and Wichita City Council member James Clendenin, were caught plotting a cover-up of a negative campaign video that appeared during the 2019 Wichita mayoral race.

Following the release of the audio, O'Donnell vowed to step down from his position if elected to a second term, effectively allowing the local Republican party to select a new commissioner, but appealed to supporters in his district to keep the seat in Republican hands. Instead, heabruptly resigned Friday afternoon after the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office announced that there was enough evidence begin ouster proceedings against O’Donnell.

With such a close race for the 2nd District, Lopez is trying to find a path forward with the more than 16,000 voters who picked O’Donnell over her.

"I know that we won by a small margin but I want to make sure that everybody knows that I take it extremely seriously that I will represent everybody in this district," Lopez said.

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.