Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Longtime officer joins race for Leavenworth County Sheriff

June 19, 2012

Burdel Welsh has been back in Kansas for just a few weeks, but he’s no stranger to the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s office.

And he’s ready to make a return.

Welsh filed for the sheriff’s race and will face Andy Dedeke, the current sheriff’s office captain, in the November general election.

“I think it’s a natural progression in my career,” Welsh said.

Welsh filed days before the filing deadline June 1. He had been working as deputy chief of police in the Kwajalein Police Department on the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“I’ve been thinking about it for months,” Welsh said. “I’ve been discussing it with my wife and supporters. I’ve been trying to make things work with my contract and being able to return and finally everything fell into place.”

Welsh, 55, has worked in law enforcement since he was 18. He’s worked in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and served as deputy sheriff and acting undersheriff in the Atchison County Sheriff Department, an undersheriff with the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s office and police chief for Lake Quivira Police. Welsh also served in the Kansas University Police Department and with Leavenworth County Emergency Management.

Welsh became familiar with the department in the Marshall Islands when his youngest son, Brian, was stationed there from 2005-07.

“It gave us some exposure to the island and the department,” Welsh said.

Welsh and Dave Zoellner were co-undersheriffs in Leavenworth County in the early 2000s. Zoellner is in his second term as sheriff, but is not seeking a third.

Welsh said his focus as sheriff would be on interaction with other agencies.

“I’d like to really work on relationships with emergency agencies and how the sheriff’s department works with police and fire departments and the highway patrol,” Welsh said. “And building and working on those relationships.”

The longtime law enforcement official also touched on what he would like to see continue in the sheriff’s office.

“I think the department has always worked to hire quality employees and I want to continue that,” he said. “Keep that level of professionalism high.”

In addition to son Brian, who works for Leavenworth police, Burdel and his wife, Cynthia, have an older son, Jim, all of Tonganoxie. Jim also works in law enforcement as a Lawrence police officer.

Currently retired, Welsh said his focus would be solely on the campaign.

“I think the campaign is really going to give me an opportunity to talk to a lot of residents and see what challenges there are that might be different on the inside,” he said.

Welsh, a Democrat, will face Dedeke, a rural Easton Republican, in the November election.

Dedeke, 44, and his wife, Wendy, have three children: daughters Brenna, 17, and Grace, 12, and son, Chase, 8.

He has worked in the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s office for 20 years. In an interview after Dedeke filed in February, he said he was privileged to have daily interaction with Zoellner and Undersheriff Ron Cranor on the business side of the office dealing with budgets, proposals and large purchases.

“With that in mind, the next logical step, I believe, is for me to pursue the office of sheriff,” Dedeke said in a February interview. “It is something that I have thought of for some time.”

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