Blubaugh announces run for county commission

Instead of running for Wichita mayor, city council member Jeff Blubaugh said he plans to challenge Sedgwick County District 2 Commissioner Sarah Lopez in 2024.

By Travis Mounts

Current Wichita City Council member Jeff Blubaugh has announced plans to run for the Sedgwick County Commission District 2 seat.
In making the announcement, Blubaugh said he will not be a challenger for Wichita mayor later this year.
“I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people from all across Wichita asking me to run for mayor this year,” said Blubaugh, a Republican. “My family and I discussed a race for mayor, and while our city does need new leadership in that office, I know I can best serve my community by continuing to fight for the people of southwest Wichita and hopefully have the honor to serve the communities of Haysville and Clearwater.”
The District 2 seat is currently held by Democrat Sarah Lopez. She became county commissioner after a tight 2020 race against Republican Michael O’Donnell, who was embroiled in the creation of a false attack ad against then-candidate Brandon Whipple, who is in the final year of his first term as Wichita mayor. O’Donnell resigned a few weeks before the end of his term, and Sedgwick County Republican Dalton Glasscock served the final weeks of O’Donnell’s term.
Blubaugh was first elected to the Wichita City Council in April 2015 in a non-partisan race. He was re-elected in 2019 with 57.5 percent of the vote.
“I’m proud of what has been accomplished during my time on the council. Southwest Wichita has seen more road projects, park investments and public/private improvements over my term on the council than ever before,” Blubaugh said. “From a new airport, ballpark, Delano revitalization, Pawnee Prairie Park investments, West Street infrastructure, my district has really grown. What I’m most proud of is the new jobs and companies that have moved to southwest Wichita during my tenure. Make no mistake, we have more goals to be accomplished in 2023 at the city level and I’m excited to see them come to fruition and carry that momentum into the county commission.”
Lopez, meanwhile, said her focus right now is on the next two years of her term. While elected in November 2020, her four-year term began in January 2021.
“The election for County Commission District 2 is two years away while the needs of our county are immediate. The role of Commissioner is a full time job and requires full time work. I am dedicated to this work rather than playing politics,” Lopez said in a statement. “For me, the announcement of a potential challenger changes nothing. I am not interested in stopping the work I’m doing today to begin campaigning. We have a lot to accomplish over the next two years and I will be fully dedicated to seeing the initiatives I’ve begun through to completion.”
Lopez cited some of the accomplishments that have been made over the past two years.
“Since my election in 2020, we’ve seen huge improvements to stabilizing our workforce, the largest criminal justice reform in decades and large-scale economic development projects that will transform the future of Sedgwick County,” she said. “My focus for the immediate future will continue to remain on working for the people of District 2.”
For 16 years, the District 2 seat was held by Democrat Tim Norton of Haysville who lost a bid for a fifth term to O’Donnell in 2016. Lopez is currently the only Democrat on the Sedgwick County Commission, following Lacey Cruce’s November loss to Ryan Beaty.
The district includes the cities of Clearwater and Haysville as well as much of southwest Wichita. The district is bordered by the Arkansas River on the east, and runs just north of U.S. Highway 54 on the north, including Wichita Eisenhower National Airport. The western boundary goes south along 119th Street West from U.S. 54 to 71st Street South, and then extends west of Clearwater to 215th Street West.