Undersheriff files to run for Douglas County sheriff in 2020 election

photo by: Contributed Photo

Gary Bunting

The man who is currently second in command to the Douglas County sheriff filed Friday to run for the office, also ensuring a Democratic primary in the race.

Gary Bunting, 44, has worked for the sheriff’s office since he and his wife, Theresa, moved to Lawrence in 1996, according to information he provided to the Journal-World on Friday. He began as a corrections officer and rose through the ranks of deputy, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain until current Sheriff Ken McGovern appointed him undersheriff in 2015.

Bunting said that as sheriff, he’d work to continue efforts to improve employee welfare, wellness and retention and to evaluate safe and effective alternatives to incarceration.

“Additionally, I will help lead a countywide effort to focus on ways to help prevent individuals from being incarcerated in the first place, focusing especially on programs for our youth,” Bunting said in the information provided to the Journal-World. As an example of one such effort he’d like to undertake, Bunting said he’d like to start a sheriff’s office day camp this summer.

He said he would also coordinate with the city of Lawrence to build a countywide mobile crisis response team and lobby state legislators for safe bail reform measures and improved funding for the overwhelmed court system.

McGovern, 60, announced in June that he would retire after his current term expires. He was first elected to the position as a Republican in 2004, the Journal-World has reported.

Bunting holds a bachelor of science degree in computer information systems from Friends University and is a certified public manager through the University of Kansas School of Public Management, according to the information he provided.

Bunting wrote that he has had the opportunity to work as a team with McGovern, sheriff’s office staff and the support of the Douglas County commissioners. Among accomplishments of the team effort, he lists increasing reentry programming, lowering the numbers of Douglas County Jail inmates with severe mental illness, providing counseling and medication-assisted treatment for those with substance use disorders at the jail, creating a first responder assistance coordinator position and restructuring correctional staff positions to increase starting pay and allow for raises more quickly.

Bunting is the second sheriff’s office employee to throw his hat into the ring. Lt. Jay Armbrister, of Baldwin City, filed to run, also as a Democrat, back in October 2018, the Journal-World reported.

The candidate filing and withdrawal deadline for the 2020 election is June 1, according to information on the county clerk’s website, douglascountyelections.com. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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Related coverage: 2020 Douglas County sheriff election

June 12, 2019: Douglas County sheriff won’t seek another term, plans to retire in 2020

Oct. 16, 2018: Lieutenant files to run for Douglas County sheriff in 2020


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