Candidate questionnaire: Burdel Welsh
Q: Why did you decide to run for this seat? What would be your top priority if elected?
The Welsh File
Burdel Welsh, Democrat
Occupation: Retired chief of police, returning from two years as a contract deputy chief of police for the U.S. Army, Kwajalein Atoll.
Married: Wife, Cynthia
Experience: Law enforcement professional for more than 35 years. Retired as a chief of police in 2010, after which served as a U.S. Army Contractor, Deputy Chief of Police, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Marshall Islands. Served 15 years with Leavenworth Co. Sheriff’s Office, including five years as undersheriff
Education: Master’s degree in business administration and a bacehlor’s degree in business management. Certified Kansas Law Enforcement officer and has received numerous other law enforcement credentials.
As a Leavenworth County resident since 1978, I am concerned about the law enforcement issues facing county residents. With my experience and qualifications, I am now in a position to give back to the county as sheriff. Law enforcement is my life-long career and I now have the credentials to serve as sheriff.
My top priority is to increase the effectiveness of the sheriff’s office by improving the way the administration cooperates and interacts with other agencies. I will improve the working relationships with other agencies, and train and empower supervisors to operate effectively. I will implement technology to improve performance and reduce long-term personnel costs. These improvements will improve the safety and security of Leavenworth County residents and visitors. Other areas of concern include training 911 dispatchers in the area of call handling, information gathering, emergency medical dispatching, and the radio system.
Q: How does your experience qualify you for this office?
A: During my more than 35 years of public service, I worked for city, county, state and federal agencies. This variety of service in positions of increasing responsibility, along with my education, gives me a broad base of experience to use in the position of sheriff. This experience includes 15 years with the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office, with five years as second in command.
My administrative experience shows 15 years of service in the No. 1 or No. 2 leadership positions. This includes service as undersheriff, chief of police, deputy chief of police, and Leavenworth County Emergency Management Director.
As a former Tonganoxie City Council member for two years and a small business owner for 24 years, I understand the challenges of the current economic climate and the need for government to work closely with business. My business education and practical ownership experience gives me the skills to work with business owners to reduce crime, improve safety awareness, and benefit local businesses through cooperative partnerships.
When I served as Leavenworth County Undersheriff, I enjoyed excellent working relationships with local first responders and service agencies. I served on several committees with Mid America Regional Council and the State of Kansas in law enforcement communications. This experience will help improve our local communications system and the way we interface with surrounding agencies. You can find my detailed resume at welsh4sheriff.com.
Q: Animal control has been a hot topic. How would you address it?
A: The sheriff’s office cannot act on the animal control topic without legal authority from the Leavenworth County Board of County Commissioners. Along with the legal authority, the BOCC must provide funding for the service. I support a survey of county residents to determine what services the county residents desire.
If animal control is one of these services, I believe the resolutions (laws) must balance the desire for animal control and the freedom many animal owners seek when moving to unincorporated areas of the county. I also believe the BOCC should explore contracting for animal control services with a city that currently provides these services. The largest unaddressed animal control problem seems to be abandoned animals, the lack of a facility to take these animals, and the lack of a method of collecting the animals. Limited animal control services and strict laws on dumping animals may help to address this problem. You can obtain more information on this issue from the Leavenworth County Humane Society, a volunteer organization, at lchsinc.org.
Q: With the current economic conditions, budgets are tight. Are there budget areas that can be reduced?
A: The public budget information available through the county clerk’s office does not provide enough detail to answer that question. The budget for the sheriff’s office has been relatively stable, especially from 2012 to 2013, showing only a minor increase of less than 1%. Fuel costs for patrol cars and medical care for jail inmates are significant areas that are often difficult to forecast. Close monitoring of expenditures and long range fiscal planning are necessary keep expenses low.
One hidden expense is the cost to replace officers that leave to take better paying jobs. To maintain a professional organization, the sheriff’s office must attract and retain qualified individuals. It costs thousands of dollars to recruit and train officers. This money is lost when officers leave for other better paying jobs. Wages must be competitive to stem this loss and regular pay increases improve morale within the sheriff’s office.
Q: Why should voters select you instead of your opponent?
A: The residents of Leavenworth County deserve a qualified, experienced, and proven leader as their next sheriff. My credentials demonstrate that I have over 15 years of leadership experience in the No. 1 or No. 2 management positions, far exceeding the experience of my opponent. I have 15 years of experience with the sheriff’s office, with five years as undersheriff. My opponent has never achieved this level of management experience.