Osage County swears in Wells as new sheriff

Officially taking office Sept. 30 were Osage County Sheriff Chris Wells, right, and Undersheriff Scott Brenner, left, after being sworn in by Judge Taylor Wine.

Osage County’s chief judge swore in a new sheriff and undersheriff Wednesday in front of a small crowd gathered on the Osage County Courthouse lawn, after a governor’s appointment made swiftly due to the former sheriff’s retirement effective Sept. 30, 2020.

Fourth Judicial District Chief Judge Taylor Wine presided over a brief ceremony Wednesday to swear in Chris Wells as the new Osage County Sheriff.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly had officially appointed Wells last Friday after the Osage County Republican Central Committee met Sept. 24 to make the nomination. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn had announced her retirement at the Sept. 14 meeting of the Osage County Commissioners.

Wine also administered an oath of office to new Osage County Undersheriff Scott Brenner, who was appointed by Wells.

Dunn and Wells had competed in the sheriff’s race in the Republican primary election Aug. 4, with Wells defeating Dunn for the Republican nomination.

The sheriff’s race will be finalized during the Nov. 3 general election. If she had not retired, Dunn’s term would have ended with the swearing in of the sheriff-elect on Jan. 11, 2021.

The local Republican precinct committee was charged with selecting an interim sheriff to fill Dunn’s unexpired term. Osage County Republican Committee chairman Dana Webber reported the committee had 30 eligible members, but 20 voted in person and carried eight proxy votes for absent members at the Sept. 24 convention. Republicans from outside the county were enlisted to run the convention so all local members could vote.

During the convention, held in the lobby of the Osage County Courthouse, precinct committeewoman Rhonda Harmon nominated Wells for the sheriff position, with no other nominations made from the floor. Wells was elected by acclamation by the members present.

The committee’s nomination was hand carried to the governor’s office, and Kelly made the appointment official on Sept. 25.

Chris Wells, right, signs the oath of office to serve as Osage County Sheriff.

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