Sedgwick County commissioners approve citizen advisory boards

Jim Skelton

Sedgwick County commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday allowing them to establish citizen advisory boards in their districts if they want them.

Commissioner Jim Skelton, who represents the southeastern part of the county, including Derby and Mulvane, is the only commissioner who has said he wants one so far.

Skelton served on the Wichita City Council, which uses such boards.

The boards would consist of 11 members appointed by each commissioner. Board  members would give commissioners advice and recommendations on public policy, citizen engagement, and problems in the districts.

The boards also would review capital improvements,  planning issues and local traffic concerns.

Skelton said his board would allow him to be pro-active in his district.

“People are going to be  coming to me and sharing issues affecting their lives,” he said.

Karl Peterjohn said the county already has 33 boards. His district, covering the western portion of the county, includes 13 townships with 39 elected officials, and 10 incorporated municipalities — excluding Wichita — with more than 50 city council members, he said.

“I think it’s unnecessary and duplicative, but as long as it doesn’t cost taxpayers any additional money, I’m not going to be standing in the way,” Peterjohn said.

Richard Ranzau, who represents the north-central part of the county, including Valley Center, said he shared Peterjohn’s concerns about the boards, but he voted for the resolution since it allows commissioners the option of seeking citizen input in their own way.

The vote allowing the boards was unanimous, 4-0, with Commissioner Tim Norton absent.

Skelton said he appreciated the chance to prove to his fellow commissioners that such boards are unique and help serve  constituents’ needs.