It's a unique situation that has developed in the race for Sumner County Sheriff. Incumbent, Darren Chambers was selected to take over the position when Gerald Gilkey, who was in his third term in office, decided to step-down to pursue another career. But yesterday (May 16), Gilkey filed for re-election and will run against the man who replaced him.
Chambers filed for candidacy in Nov. 2011. He says running for the office of Sumner County Sheriff in 2012 was in his plans before being asked to step in last year.
"If I had not been the seated sheriff now, I would still be running against him this year anyway," Chambers says. Now that he has been the sheriff for several months, the decision to file for the election was made easier.
"I wanted to continue on with what I started," he said. Gilkey resigned his duties to become the Director of Security at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kan. His tenure there was a short one, leaving people wondering as to what caused him to leave.
"Actually the decision was all mine, everybody likes to put a lot more into it than what really was," Gilkey said. "The fact of the matter was I was there just long enough to realize that wasn't the life for me. I just could not bring myself to be a part of the casino world, and it just wasn't my thing." With the campaign trail bound to start heating up, both candidates hope to make a good impression.
Chambers has been in the field of law enforcement since 1983, when he was a police officer in Mulvane. He came to the Sumner County Sheriff's Department in '85, then made the move to the Wichita Police Department in 1990, where he worked until last August.
It has been noted, during his time as Sheriff, that Chambers hopes to run the jail more like a business.
"My goal is if I can keep it producing a good revenue for the County, it helps give back to the County; if it means lowering the mill levi's, or paying back part of my budget...so we can keep down on how much the tax-payers have to pay," he said.
Gilkey's career began in 1991 in Garnett, Kan., then he worked for nearly a year in Andover, Kan. After that, in 1993, he made the move to Sumner County, working for the Sheriff's Department. In 2000, he was elected to his first term as Sumner County Sheriff, and maintained the seat until stepping down last year.
"I've learned a few things in those last three terms, things I would do differently, mistakes that I've made," Gilkey said. "With the reflection time I've had, hopefully it would be much better." He hopes the last 12-years will resonate with the voters.
Page 2 of 2 - "I've been campaigning for the last 12-years," he said. "Everyday that you're an elected official, you're working for the people, you are campaigning everyday. The past, hopefully, somewhat speaks for itself." In spite of those 12-years, there is still some residual negativity floating around concerning the way Gilkey left office.
"You work for the entire county, and you're always going to have that 20 percent of people you can't please," he said. "I focus on the positive things, and the negative things I hear, they go in one ear and out the other..." Gilkey had no comment on Sheriff Chambers, and running against him. He encourages people to seek him out if they want to know more about his campaign.
"The best thing to do is find me and ask me, give me a call," He said he prefers to speak with people in person, but they can also call him at 620-440-7547.
"The minute I left the casino people started calling me- people from city governments, school governments...chiefs of police, that's one of the things that really lead me to do this," Gilkey continued. "I may have been gone, but the support has never been lost." As for Chambers and his campaign, he plans to try to get a website up and running, along with a Facebook page, and he hopes to attend the different events around the County.
Chambers also said he would speak to public groups if invited, and would welcome a debate if one was set up. The sheriff also had little to say about his only challenger, who is trying to get his old job back.
"That's his choice if that's what he wants to do," Chambers said. "I kind of question what his commitment is to the community if he just left nine months ago."
The filing deadline for the 2012 elections is June 1. The General election is scheduled for Nov. 6. For complete election coverage, stay with The Wellington Daily News.