WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Rotary Club hosted a forum for Sedgwick County Board of Trustees candidates Monday, Oct. 17 to discuss marijuana and other issues.
One of the topics at the forum was how Sedgwick County should handle marijuana cases after the City of Wichita’s decision to stop prosecuting them in municipal court.
District 1 Challenger Kelli Grant (Dem) says he sees the benefit of no longer prosecuting petty possession cases.
“I think we’re losing young talent to other states around us that have either medical or recreational and or recreational use of marijuana,” Grant said. “I think it’s a drain on our community, and I think we can see some benefits if we follow suit.”
Current District 1 Commissioner Pete Meitzner (Rep) says he first wants to see what the City’s decision will do to the court system.
“As long as the jail and the court system aren’t adversely affected, then locally, I think we’ll be fine,” Meitzner said. “But if we are affected and if Marc Bennett has to hire staff to do all this, then it has to be reviewed and worked together.”
Economic development is an issue for all candidates. District 1 candidates talked about whether to use financial incentives to start a business.
“When we can get government and business and business, government and education, good things happen,” Meitzner said. “Most recently, with a $51 million award at WSU, because we are a leader in advanced manufacturing.”
“I’m committed to expanding economic development, but we have to take a critical look at the handouts for wealthy developers. We have to make sure we’re benefiting all the voters and all the residents of District One and Sedgwick County when we make those decisions,” Grant said.
Homelessness and housing issues
District 4 includes much of central and north Wichita and the cities north of Wichita.
Candidates were able to voice their opinions on how to address homelessness and housing issues in the county.
“I believe that when we can encourage development in an ethical and responsible way, we can see where development can play a huge role in making sure our homeless community has somewhere to go,” he said. Current District 4 Commissioner Lacey Cruse (Dem). “But you can’t just put someone in a house and expect them to be fine. You have to help them.”
“The city is taking the lead on this. My approach would be instead of starting a new department in the county to handle these things, I would lean specifically on the city of Wichita and help them strengthen what they’re doing in partnership instead of trying to do something with the county itself “, said District 4 challenger Ryan Baty.
One issue discussed for District 5, in the southern part of the county, was flood control issues.
“We have to get some area where we can slow down the amount of rain that’s coming in,” he said District 5 Challenger John McIntosh (Dem). “Because the rivers will be what they are, but many other streams coming through the city can be slowed down by putting in pond retention areas in other parts of the county north of Derby.”
“As far as the Spring Creek watershed flooding Derby, we’ve actually done a study on that and it’s going to take somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars to deal with that, really,” said the current District 5 Commissioner Jim Howell (Rep.). “So it’s great to talk about ideas, but where is the money going to come from?”
Tuesday, October 18, is the last day to register to vote in the general election.
To read about the candidate profiles, click here.