Derby’s mayor to challenge Welshimer in Sedgwick County District 5

Dion AvelloDerby’s mayor filed Thursday to run for the District 5 seat held by Gwen Welshimer on the Sedgwick County commission.

Dion Avello, a Republican who has been mayor for about six years, said he’s ready for a new challenge.

“We’ve grown Derby to a place where it’s a nice place to live and shop and all that,” he said. “I believe that we need to continue to build the county in the same vein with high-tech industry.”

Avello, 69, said he wants to see the county go after cutting-edge industries such as wind energy. “I know we can go get them,” he said. “We’ve got to get out of this recession.”

The general election is Nov. 2, 2010. District 5 covers southeast Sedgwick County.

Avello, who was on the Derby council for eight years before becoming mayor, moved to the area in 1981 from Albuquerque, N.M.

He said he started thinking about joining the commission about a year ago. He ran unsuccessfully for the board in 1994.

“I’d toyed with it and toyed with it, put it on the back shelf for a while,” Avello said. “People came to me and said ‘you need to run for the county commission.’ ”

Charlie Schwarz, a former Derby City Council member, is Avello’s treasurer.

“I know his philosophies, and I know what he’s done for Derby and the outstanding growth we’ve had,” Schwarz said.

Avello, he said, was one of the first supporters of Derby’s aquatic center, Rock River Rapids.

The center, Schwarz said, led to much of Derby’s growth.

“He knows how to create projects for public good but that also open up commercial development,” Schwarz said. “That set the stage for everything.”

Avello has owned Acme Lithographers, a small print shop, in Wichita for 15 years.

Welshimer, a Democrat, is serving her first term on the commission. She hasn’t filed for re-election but has said she probably will.

In all three commission seats are up for election.

The only other candidate who has filed for commission is current board member Dave Unruh.

Kelly Parks’ seat also is up for re-election. The filing deadline is June 10.