Sedgwick County Commission

Courtesy photos

Hunter Larkin says he decided to run for the Sedgwick County commission in January, when Commissioner David Dennis voted to appoint the board’s lone Democrat, Lacey Cruse, as vice chair.

Dennis joined one of his Republican colleagues in that vote, but Larkin says the decision was enough to make him question Dennis’ conservative principles.


Two seats are up for election on the Sedgwick County Commission this year, and both incumbents face primary challenges.

In the 2nd District, Commissioner Michael O’Donnell has two Republican opponents: Cindy Miles and Kathleen Garrison.

Fernando Salazar / Wichita Journalism Collaborative

The Sedgwick County Commission has reinstated part of an emergency public health order, two days after removing it.

Sedgwick County, YouTube

A new public health order in Sedgwick County shuts down bars and nightclubs, and further limits the size of gatherings.

Sedgwick County’s health officer Dr. Garold Minns issued the restrictions Wednesday in response to a surge of coronavirus infections. The emergency public health order he signed replaces the one issued on July 9.

Minns says the mandatory mask policy is working, but now it’s time to pull back on community activity.

Sedgwick County’s budget proposal for 2021 addresses staffing needs in several departments while keeping funding flat in most other areas.

County Manager Tom Stolz released the recommended budget Wednesday at the county commission meeting. Budgets for Sedgwick County government and Fire District 1 total about $458 million, about the same as last year.

Stolz said the spending plan takes into account that the county is still in COVID-19 pandemic response mode.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Sedgwick County commissioners voted Thursday not to adopt Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order on masks as a mandate, but instead are recommending that residents mask up when they're out in public.

Some commissioners said they support the order’s intent, but questioned its enforceability.

"We really and truly need to wear our masks when we’re going out," Commissioner David Dennis said, "but the problem is enforcement."

Fernando Salazar

Sedgwick County is using three strategies for COVID-19 testing to get a better sense of disease spread in the community.

The county opened up its free testing to people who don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, began a random testing program and created a mobile testing unit to reach vulnerable populations.

Primaries will be held in August for both seats on the Sedgwick County Commission up for election this year.

Voters will decide Republican primaries on Aug. 4 and contested races in November.

Current commissioners Michael O’Donnell and David Dennis are running for second terms. The two Republicans were both elected in 2016.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

Sedgwick County is leaving the next COVID-19 recovery steps up to businesses and residents.

County commissioners decided Wednesday not to impose any additional restrictions on how and when the local economy continues to reopen.

Instead, the county is recommending — but not requiring — that the guidelines outlined in the state’s phased reopening plan continue.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Sedgwick County is not imposing any additional local restrictions or policies to Gov. Laura Kelly’s phased-in plan for reopening the community unveiled Thursday night.

The statewide stay-at-home order that went into effect on March 30 will expire Sunday, allowing most restaurants, stores and other idled businesses to reopen if they use industry-specific safety protocols. A limit on gatherings of more than 10 people remains in effect through at least May 18.