Sedgwick County commissioners vote Democratic


This morning the Sedgwick County Commission voted to select member Tim Norton of Haysville as chairman for the upcoming year. Norton, a Democrat, received the votes of two of the board’s four Republican members: Those of outgoing Chairman Dave Unruh and Jim Skelton.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn nominated Richard Ranzau for the position, but he received only two votes.

It may be remarkable that a board with a four to one majority in one party elected a member of the minority party to serve as chair, or it may simply be a reflection of the actual ideological makeup of the board. Peterjohn and Ranzau consistently take stances and make votes that favor limited government and free markets, while Unruh and Skelton generally join with the politically-liberal Norton on most issues. The chairman is more than just a ceremonial position, as the chairman presides over commission meetings. On many agenda items, the commission is not obligated to hear testimony from citizens, although it must when there are items that have public hearings required by law. It was the practice of Kelly Parks and Peterjohn, when they served as chair, to allow anyone who appeared at meetings to speak. In his term as chair, Unruh was seen as less accommodating, although I think that anyone who really cared to was allowed to speak, sometimes with a gentle admonition to hurry along. It is unknown in what manner Norton will run the meetings while he is chair. A hint: He’s objected to the term “ObamaCare” as pejorative, so I wouldn’t use that word around the courthouse.

For Chairman Pro Tem, the commissioners selected Skelton. Ranzau’s name was placed into nomination by Peterjohn, and he received the same two votes as he did for chairman. The votes for Skelton by Norton and Unruh are surprising. Skelton’s recent behavior has been erratic, even bizarre at times. His recent appearance at the Wichita City Council (video here) brought laughter and guffaws from both the bench and the public. I got the sense, however, the people were laughing at Skelton, not with him.

Unruh’s selection for 2011 Chairman’s award

Chairman Unruh selected Visioneering Wichita as the recipient of the annual Chairman’s award. This organization is in favor of government intervention into the economy — and people’s lives — on a large and increasing scale. Most of the items on its legislative agenda involve more government spending. While Visioneering — its chair Jon Rolph, anyway — denies advocating for increased taxes, Milton Friedman has taught us that it is the level of spending that is the true measure of the size of government. The size of that Visioneering seeks to expand.


6 responses to “Sedgwick County commissioners vote Democratic”

  1. BD

    The fallacy in your comments is the premise, i.e., that the majority party should elect based upon party affiliation. That is the problem. We aren’t interested in extremes, but balance. We don’t want party politics and politicos, we want statesmen. They are missing. That is why our national elections are so split. It is moderation that the people want, not ideology. We want what is in our collective best interest and that is lost in this day and age.

  2. Cato

    The only time that we want “moderation” is when the Democrats are in the minority. Norton is a Democrat that understands, as in Topeka, that the only way Democrats are able to do anything in Kansas is to play the divisive card among the Republicans in order to elicit favor for next time.

  3. Nash

    Bob, since Commsioners Ranzau and Peterjohn support lowering government spending, don’t you think they should voluntarily lower their government salaries of $83,000 to the roughly $35,000 Wichita City Council members make? It would lower county government spending, which you and both commissioners claim to support. Please don’t evade my question about this.

  4. Joseph Elmore

    It is good to be in the no, thanks for keeping me informed of what’s going on in the city and state.

  5. Toldyaso

    Dave Unruh and James Skeleton:

    Resign from the Republican Party today.

  6. Brian

    If the City Council members want a pay raise equal to the County pay they should vote themselves one or run for the County instead. Mayor Brewer draws over $90,000 from the City; his full salary from Spirit; and his National Guard retirement (all while people are hurting financially in Wichita). Not bad for someone with a high school education!

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