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Get To Know the Candidates for Wichita's Mayor

Posted by: Admin on Friday, July 19, 2019

The Primary election will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 6. In order to help our members make the most informed decisions at the polls, we asked each of the nine candidates for Wichita's Mayor a few questions. The answers below have been shared with no edits.

Joshua Atkinson



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.
I believe I am a different candidate, I doubt I share similar ideologies on Wichita's path to success with any of my fellow candidates. I am not here to make improvements to a system that's broken, incapable of evolving, I am here to change it. Many people at some point, have experienced a side of our system that makes the words "American Citizen" feel like a simple designation rather than an honor. This is the system I want to work to replace, in Wichita. The thing is I don't represent a little bubble of people on the west or east sides, I basically represent the workers that live in the city, the people who experience the city more intimately, the people more often subjected to the city's systems. The answer is I can't be the best candidate for any group of voters, I can only be the best for Wichitans looking for a change.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
One of my main focuses will be procuring funds from state and federal coffers in Grants and research to push for a first of it's kind state of the art education facility which will be the basis for future schools and education in the city. It will become a beacon that sets a new standard for a proper education of all citizens: supplying career options inspired by each individual's passion by graduation, constantly challenging their place in the world and their connection to something larger.

To that extent it brings me to my second focus: family housing assistance.  Families being together in a productive and supportive environment has noticeable benefits. As an HVAC Mechanic I also understand the importance of the structure of the home and the systems inside it. I want to explore a relationship with government and the homes citizens are subjected to, adequate protection from outside elements is something all citizens need access to. More discussion needs to be had concerning Wichita's homes, their owners, the contractors and government's responsibility.

My third priority, adult education, ties in with family assistance but is a more general asset I want to bring to Wichitans. I do hold a belief that the education system has been failing children for a long time, this has produced unnecessary struggles in adapting to life as adults and has a marked effect on the daily lives of adults. I would advocate an online centered resource and education center with department of education accredited courses -free of charge- that apply to our city's economical climate. Accompanied with additional resources that would explore relevant practices across the world, this would be the Wichitan's first stop for personal growth. In order to appreciate a program of this depth, every Wichitan would need access to modern standard internet. I'd like to explore internet resources that government can offer to all of its citizens, in every home, on every street, and every public property.

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
I don't believe Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected, I have not followed the work he's done as mayor since before my relocation so I am not fit to comment. I believe that the decision on who is best to lead the people is a question that is best left in the hands of those who want to be led not by those who presume to lead. Only the people can decide why Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected and why Joshua Atkinson should lead them into the next four years. The one reason people would say they chose Josh Atkinson is that I stand for more power to all of the people.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
N/A or 5

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
That is a complex conversation that should be explored more closely with the IAFF and their staffing requirements.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?

While the city of Wichita has done well in recent recruitment efforts of diverse personnel, there exists a question of training them and, I would like further information on staff efficiency with certain levels and methods of training introduced.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
Arts and culture are fundamental however there needs to be equal access, opportunity to participate, and platform to execute. Funding should be allocated with these functions in mind.

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
It is hard to say, in general most concerns appear to be on a list of budgeted priorities. I believe the city is spending too little and too much in various areas, including areas they haven't thought to allocate budget

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
The convention and performing arts centers are amazing historical structures that hosted incredible events and served generations of Wichitans. It is a precarious conversation to have. I believe more options can be considered as to what should be done with our legacies, where this money would best serve our society and day to day lives.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
See above.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
Wichita is Kansas' largest city, and as such we play a hand in large scale entertainment and generally welcoming visitors to Kansas. Since we aren't a capital city we can retain looser fun and a different sense of dignity. I'd like to grow the currently accessible services we can offer in state and out of state clientele by increasing skillset and capacity of current and new workforce associates. This will allow more challenging job duties with more capable staff. Through educating young entrepreneurs and continuing adult education via the online education resource, job creators could highlight valued skillsets worth study. I believe we can grow Wichita into a booming economy, pursuing new technologies to implement across the city, I envision the future of entertainment and industry to be as innovative as schools.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
It would depend on the individual circumstances however, I believe that we agree to host these businesses with a certain amount of ROI agreed upon. There are manpower expectations and a concern of city finances that contribute to the wellbeing and vigor of the citizens': 

1. Buying potential
2. Working fitness for duty
3. Overall quality of life

Any ventures towards tax incentive or abatement should go forth with these issues addressed and any credit allowed should show, with good intentions, increase in a positive value and adapted into company policy in some form to employees' notice.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
I would like to culture a tenable relationship with Chamber of Commerce that offers more autonomy for the time being. I'd like to assess a proposal that would highlight their projections, goals and the assistance I could offer them in my position. A thriving economy with good wages is an important factor in maintaining a family unit in our society. I would like to see how the Chamber plans to address these issues in the job sector.

Brock Booker



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I care about Wichita. I care about transparency. I care about a healthy local economy. I believe in our values, vision and overall mission.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?

1. Fixing our Transit system is my foremost and top priority that I have publicly advocated for since 2015 at City Hall.  We need bus service on Sundays and my plan is to use reserve funding to a pilot program if approved by the City Council. 
2. We must reduce crime by 10-15 percent. I would have promoted and work to implement youth mentoring. It begins there.
3. Address local Housing Issues and Scenarios

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
Because of the lack of transparency that our presiding Mayor has had for our Community at Large. Such as the new Ballpark and Stadium. As well as the New Airport Hotel item.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
I would rate our city staff superior.

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
We are not performing up to standards. Recently several fire out west that have catch in apartments. We need to have annual trainings and supplemental funding.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
Same a listed above some sharp improvement could be made to staffing levels in certain areas of town over others. However there is never a perfect scenario.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
No, the private sector should take the lead in this.

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
The city spends too much on things that do not produce for our community.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
I do not support building a new convention center. However I would entertain drawing and proposals on a new performing arts venue separately in a nearby location that is economical for the city.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
No, because I don’t believe that Century 2 should be demolished. I should be revitalized.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
A mayor has to realize his/her power and know that they can’t produce sufficient results without buy in from the vast majority of the community. A mayor should encourage active participation. 

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
Yes. 

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
If elected Mayor of Wichita, I would interact with the Chamber of Commerce by understanding and valuing the chambers role in our community. I would hope to collaborate with the organization and assist in growing the membership and leadership of the chamber at home and regionally. 

Please share any other thoughts or other important information that this questionnaire did not cover and that you believe is relevant to our decision making process.
I believe that the most relevant concern to our community is the transparency of decision making for our citizens and building back the trust with local officials and Wichita city government. 

Why should young professionals vote for you?
The reason why young professionals should vote for as Mayor is I value the future of Wichita and value our city as a whole not just east or west; or north; or just south. My vision is equality based with access. I want our city to reach it fullest potential. I am wary of the concerns and will listen by then taking the necessary swift action to problems solve and lead on the challenges that we are confronted with in the 21st century.

Ian Demory



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.
 
I feel that, as a private citizen, I can be a true representation and advocate for the people. I know what it’s like to work with/for various businesses, as well as running a small business. I know what it’s like to have to struggle to make ends meet, as well as how to work toward success. And, above all else, I understand the importance of transparency and communication with the community as a whole, which is and area in which our current local administration lacks.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
Arts and education, infrastructure, and city/community beautification/tourism

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
I believe that Mayor Longwell has neglected the citizens in favor of larger business interests. I believe that he, and those with the similar ideals, have forgotten exactly why they were elected in the first place, which is to represent the citizens and to keep their best interests in mind for the good of all citizens in the community.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
6

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
I believe we have enough, but I would also like to see a couple of extra neighborhood stations, especially in/near impoverished areas.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
See above.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
Absolutely! Arts and culture are an integral part of society, as a whole, and should be treated as such! With proper funding put towards arts and culture, this, in turn, could increase interest in the music and visual arts from various cultures throughout the world, many of which people may be unfamiliar with. And, by doing so, venues that host events can increase their revenue via citizen patronage!

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
I believe there are moments where the city spends the right amount, yet spends it on things that don’t fully benefit the community. However, as the largest city in the state, the amount being properly distributed tends to lack, with some areas taking higher priority than others, yet those areas aren’t always ones that benefit everyone.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
I believe that Century II has, for many years, served its purpose, and with adequate funding toward proper internal and external renovations, it can continue to serve its purpose. Plus, the building of a new convention center, at this moment, especially on the current grounds of Century II, would end up hurting the city by causing a loss of convention revenue and, possibly, future conventions.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
Part of my platform includes the creation of a new performing arts center in downtown. Wichita has lost out on many of the popular touring stage performances due to inadequate facilities. As the largest city in the state, I feel we should have a center that would not only help bring/house these events, but also help bring/keep revenue in the city, as many tend to travel to places like Kansas City, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City to see events that end up passing us over. Wichita has a community with high interest in the arts and these performances, and with a facility that could rival some of the PACs in regional areas, tourism could increase, which, in turn, could increase Wichita’s local business revenue!

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
The city needs to look out for its small businesses and small business owners. As I’ve said many times, including to my students, every truly successful business began as a small business, and grew due to public and city support. If we want our city and our businesses to succeed, we need to truly support them year-round, and not just during election cycles.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
Personally, I don’t believe so. For the longest time, we’ve been told that providing private firms and businesses incentives would aid in bringing jobs to a community. However, we have seen, in many cases, that doing so only benefits those companies and their pocketbooks, all while outsourcing services to areas that would end up saving said companies money. The only way I would see a positive to the incentive program would be an immediate penalty for those who do so.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
With proper communication, the local government and the CoC can work together for the betterment of the community by drafting plans to aid in helping small businesses thrive, balancing the budget, and properly distributing funds to departments to aid in the improvement of the city and community.

Mayor Jeff Longwell



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I first ran for public office (the Maize School Board) because I wanted to make a difference for my kids and others like them. I saw, firsthand, that what I and my fellow board members were doing was making a tangible difference in kids’ lives.

From there I was hooked. I wanted to see how else I could help. I’ve dedicated my life to public service since I served on the Maize School Board. I served in that capacity for 12 years, then on the City Council for eight, now as Mayor for four. This job isn’t about prestige, it’s a calling. It’s not glamorous. There are long days with very few weekends and no vacations. You’re never going to make everyone happy, and when something goes wrong, it’s your face on the cover of the paper, regardless of the circumstances. And yet, if you are called to this job, you persist.

It’s all been worth it. During my time, I got to work to help keep Cargill in Wichita, providing an incentive package that didn’t cost the community cash incentives and guarantees a return on our investment, yet Cargill was thrilled with the opportunity to choose Wichita largely because of the direction we are headed. We built a joint law enforcement training center at WSU – a project fifty years in the making. We built a new downtown library, expanded our aquatics facilities, and encouraged new investments in our city.

You can see the physical proof of progress as you walk downtown: from Union Station, down Douglas Avenue to include the river corridor are new buildings or total renovations to old structures. I have helped solve key infrastructure issues that have kept homes from flooding, improved our water supply and has provided better roads to safely carry traffic.

We are now a Triple-A baseball city that will help us compete for talent and opportunities amongst peer cities. We accomplished this without placing a tax burden on our general population. I have initiated a Youth Employment Project that in just four years has grown from serving 100 young people to over 2,000 youth as they receive training to help them be successful in future their future careers. We have been able to secure a budget surplus for two consecutive years while expanding critical programs. But, we now have a problem that we need to solve: Wichita needs workers to fill the excess job positions we’ve created. I am fortunate to work with a city council that can have great discussions and work together to improve our city. I’m honored to have endorsements from several of them.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
Our areas of focus haven’t changed. We must continue to focus on public safety, safeguarding our infrastructure and growing our quality of life amenities. There are always multiple issues that will be important to growing our city, but these three areas deserve our full attention.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
City staff is overall made up of hardworking, tireless employees that do so much with few resources. We are always working to improve, and continue to look for ways to best serve the community. Overall, 7+

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
We are fortunate to have a number one ISO fire safety rating. This is based on staffing levels and resources to include equipment and water, as well as how well we are training our firefighters. We are now one of only 315 out of 47,000 fire departments that are rated to receive a number one safety rating. I believe we have the appropriate staff ready to respond, but as our population and needs change, we must be flexible to best serve our community and our firefighter family.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
We do need more police officers and we must be strategic about it. Public safety has always been a key pillar of focus for the council and myself. We currently have 60 more commissioned officers on the street than three years ago. We also have a new pilot project that brings together an Integrated Care Team starting on August 1st that could eliminate as many as 10,000 calls per year from our police officers. We have a new department that responds to traffic accidents to help keep our officers fighting crime. We now have crime analysts that will provide a more strategic approach to crime fighting. In 2019 we have seen all of our violent crimes drop by double digits with the changes were are implementing. Before we simply add bodies we must look at the new data to be strategic about where we add resources.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
We are putting together a policy that will add better structure to the investments we should make regarding art in our community. It will potentially program 1 ½ percent of our capital improvements to include art components. This will be a slight increase from the comparable numbers over the past five years of 1.19 percent invested.
Sharon Fearey and I also lead a team that helped restructure a local mil levy that is dedicated to our cultural arts. We are one of only a few cities that has a funding stream dedicated to helping our arts community be successful.

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
Considering that I have helped and voted on our budget for multiple years my track record speaks for itself regarding delivering critical serves and helping manage a budget that has not seen a mil level increase in twenty years. Our budget includes a budget surplus for the past two years.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
We are missing out on too many lost opportunities because our convention center is not adequate to meet most group’s requirements or expectations.
This translates to millions of dollars of lost revenue that could be captured by our city and businesses in our city.
We need a dramatic upgrade to our convention center. We can also prove that this would be an investment that will return dollars back to our local economy that will far exceed the investment needed.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
We are blessed to have some of the best performing arts programs compared to any city in America. We also have trained successfully performers working in some of the most prestigious venues in America. Our programs deserve a much improved performing arts center that the community will need to weigh in on regarding the investments we should make at what it looks like.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
Under my leadership we have seen companies choose Wichita to expand their footprint, grow new jobs or simply call Wichita home for doing business in. We must continue to work every day to promote our city, which includes finding opportunities which will allow future generations to want to call Wichita home. Focusing on industry clusters is a great way to strategically help Wichita grow. Helping our entrepreneurs navigate roadblocks, secure resources and team up with critical talent is important to growing our economy. We must continue to foster talent in our youth and work to attract talent to insure the success of our companies that proudly say Wichita is a great place to raise a family and a better place to grow a business.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
In Wichita we have a policy that allows for certain types of incentives to be used as long as we are getting a return on the tax-payers investments of 1.3 to 1 ration as a minimum. We have proof that these policies are working and today we have more jobs than people to fill them. In the past, the City gave cash incentives to companies that ended up leaving just a few short years later with devastating effects. We have gone a new route, and our current incentive packages invest in companies that ensures in the success of our community.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
I have a track record of working with the Chamber to help promote the success of our city. I’ve spoken and been the keynote at numerous Chamber events and worked with the Chamber on innumerable initiatives in the community. Supporting our business community is crucial to our region’s success.  It is critical to bring together people and businesses to address, promote and guide initiatives that will make Wichita Metro more successful. The Regional Chamber is the right vehicle to accomplish this task. Whether it is focusing on talent recruitment or better airfares our Regional Chamber has been working diligently with local leaders and key businesses to improve our opportunities and make companies big and small more successful.

Please share any other thoughts or other important information that this questionnaire did not cover and that you believe is relevant to our decision making process.
We are experiencing unprecedented growth in our community. From the core to all regions, you’ll see growth in our community. That includes south Wichita and the major investments made at south Seneca and I235, the Greenwich corridor, the Maize road corridor and the multiple companies that have added jobs in our community. We’re also working on new innovative ways to fight blight and quickly respond to road concerns such as pothole or traffic accidents. From Uptown Landing to the Starlite Drive In we are witnessing changes that make Wichita a better place to live. I’ve enjoyed building relationships with the community and sharing my vision of how to make Wichita the best place it can be.

Why should young professionals vote for you?
First because I have listened to their concerns and helped bring about change that has made a difference. For the past several years I have gathered a group of young professionals to advise me and provide feedback about the decisions the council and I face. We meet once a month at different hot spots around town and I’ve enjoyed their feedback and frank, honest discussion about their concerns, desires and hope for our community. They are the generation we will turn everything over to and we must use their guidance to move our community in the right direction. We are either moving forward or moving backward and without the help of our W’s we are placing our city at a disadvantage. It is young professionals who have helped us take a struggling Q-line bus service from four thousand riders a year to more than one-hundred and twenty thousand riders a year. Everyone working together is how our community will continue with the momentum we experienced during the past four years. It’s time for us to be bold and work together to make our community the best it can be.

Amy Lyon



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I have 22 years of proven success as a leader in a global corporation managing a multi-million-dollar budget and diverse teams. I was responsible to executive leadership, shareholders, as well as clients both large and small. I am a Veteran, Kansas Director of Objective Zero, Volunteer with ACLU working on two nonpartisan issues, specifically voting rights and criminal justice reform. I previously served as Board Chair for YMCA Child Care and Camp and do volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity on home builds as well as budget counseling, Inter-Faith Ministries, and have recently participated in Core/Urban Gardening.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
1. Review of current contracts/development deals in play and take immediate corrective actions if needed to correct the missteps made these past few years. Further, I would ensure the same contactors are not used in every deal and attempt to bring back to Wichita construction companies owned by people of color and disperse the upcoming work.

2. Immediately change City Council meetings to evening times, ensuring more opportunity for community engagement, and create an online bi-directional feedback forum where the citizens of Wichita can engage with city officials and we can gauge buy-in on the next steps for projects within the city.

3. Meet with community boards and stakeholders to create a more cohesive and understandable three to five year plan for Wichita that the masses can understand and be kept in the know. We need to bring to together the multiple boards, and multiple plans and ensure there is transparency in these plans using the online technology stated above.

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
While Mayor Longwell may have started with good intentions, he clearly lacks the business acumen and diverse business experience to effectively provide leadership for the City of Wichita. It is abundantly clear that due to this lack of leadership and ability to negotiate business deals and offerings, he is being influenced and doing what is easy and without thought by those seeking to make financial gain without regard for the city as whole. Further, as witnessed in the City Council meetings, he is condescending and dismissive of citizens, specifically women and minorities. This speaks directly to character and creates a culture where this behavior is acceptable when it is not.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
The city staff that I have interacted with varies at times and depends on the department. I remain neutral giving it a 5.

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
Depends on which budget you look at. If we are eliminating trucks as proposed in one budget, then do we need more? I would be interested in seeing the full and final budget as well as response times and by gathering direct feedback from fire station employees and by collecting and using data to drive these decisions.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
In 2017 there was a study conducted on the policing needs for the City of Wichita and since then we have only implemented a small portion of the recommended changes brought forth in the study which was hiring 37 more officers. I believe in additional officers to address attrition rates, and to have adequate protection; however, there were many other parts of this study that needed to be implemented in order to provide the policing solutions needed for this city. Critical needs such as realigning WPD work locations, training, community services, etc. were greatly ignored. With the ongoing neglect and oppression of areas throughout this city, you will certainly continue to need more if you don’t change the culture of our current elected officials.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
Yes.

- Arts and culture help when attempting to bring new business to this city. In the latest study, over 90% of CEO’s stated this is critical component when considering locations for their businesses;
- Arts and culture are key to revitalizing parts of our city and will also help support the local businesses in surrounding areas;
- Cities with thriving arts and culture have greater sense of community and are viewed as safer and more inviting for prospective residents;

The list goes on…..

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
I think a full review is necessary and there will be some very tough decisions and reallocation of monies to recover losses in the city because of the poor decisions made by Mayor Longwell and the City Council who allowed it. I don’t think until a full budget is released, I should not comment but I can tell you in my full review of past budgets, I would certainly change where some money is being spent. There is more to Wichita than downtown!

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
I do not unless there is data to support the need and it shows that conventions are not held here because there is no location to accommodate.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
I absolutely DO NOT! I believe that we should renovate and redesign Century II building to accommodate the productions we lose due to limitations. I am also proposing that Charles McAfee lead the project as the architect in charge of design and then be named after him and his work. We have this amazing, nationally-recognized architect right here in Wichita and yet it is other cities/states that benefit from his innovative design and talent.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
Wichita is THE largest city in Kansas but does not get that recognition. We instead, behave small and have a history of not fostering new business, lack innovation, and do not strategize and collaborate with current stakeholders, and the surrounding cities. Local elected leaders MUST actively focus on a “regional economy” road-map in order to achieve growth.

- I would implement ongoing meetings with all sister cities to vet regional opportunities;
- I would shore-up transit issues that already impact our local businesses and workforce;
- Innovate on ways to connect displaced workers with training for new work that is in demand;
- Focus on workforce, people, and industries with the highest growth potential over mediocre businesses;
- Learn from other cities! If we just put the egos and partisanship away, we could learn from other cities that have paved the way for growth and opportunity.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
No, I believe in focusing on placing emphasis on our skilled workers and ensuring we have proper infrastructure over tax incentives. We have given away enough.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
If I were Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce would play an integral part in the meetings on regional growth as I mentioned above.

- The Chamber of Commerce is truly the one entity that touches almost every business in the city and has tremendous insight into opportunities for growth and updating local government with its findings is key to success;
- Create a Mayor/Chamber innovation tournament to inspire new business, problem solving, and resident satisfaction;
- Specifically, the Wichita Chamber is focusing on inclusive opportunities which in turn helps the city at large
- Help bring all the competing boards, committees, and commissions together for one cohesive plan.

Why should young professionals vote for you?
I have worked in technology for the past 22 years and for a diverse global software corporation, and believe in enhancing the technology of the City of Wichita to ensure better collaboration with the citizens and communities. I have setup teams that we in charge of customers across the globe and did it all with software and technology. We have so much more we can do across other areas of the city, which could include the types of offerings downtown, but for those who don’t want to fight the parking or just want to exist where they live. I would also love to host innovation tournaments to come up with the next big projects for the city, and I would engage the young professional community in setting up these tournaments, and let them help decide the future city they want to live in.

Marty Mork



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I will fight to restore our Freedoms. I am a Freedom Fighter. I will fight to cut personal property tax. I will bring industrial Hemp Jobs to Wichita.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
Fight for restore our Freedoms.
Cut taxes and stop big spending.
I will bring jobs to Wichita.

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
High on taxes and a big spender. Would not stand with the people who voted in 2015 to decriminalize cannabis, the same people who elected him in 2015.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
#1 -- they all are for high taxes and big spenders.

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
I don’t know, I would have to talk to them.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
No, I don’t think so.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
Not with tax dollars.

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
Way too much. I will cut taxes and stop big spending.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
The city is spending way to much -- $40 Million on the new library, over $80 Million the new ballpark, $500 on the new water plant. If the tax payers are going to pay for things like this then they should be able to vote on it.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
The same thing. Let the people vote on it.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
I would be for cutting taxes, like local businesses to 0% or as close to 0 as we can. I will bring industrial hemp jobs to Wichita. I want a small local government.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
Yes. The less they pay the more jobs Wichita will get.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
I want all the input I can get. The city belongs to the people.

Please share any other thoughts or other important information that this questionnaire did not cover and that you believe is relevant to our decision making process.
I am not a politician, I am a Conservative Republican. I am a lot like President Trump and Ran Paul.

Why should young professionals vote for you?
I will fight to restore our Freedoms.
I will fight to stop big spending and high taxes.
I will bring new Jobs to Wichita.
I am not a politician, I will be for the people.
I want a small local Government, and let the people prosper.
Make sure that NO tax dollars go to companies that hire illegal aliens, Tax dollars should only go to the American Worker’s.
With the farmers growing hemp I will bring Industrial hemp Jobs to Wichita.

Lyndy Wells



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I have enjoyed a successful career in business and have been involved in many community leadership roles, including serving as Chair of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2006. I believe I bring a fresh business perspective and leadership skills to the City to change processes that open the opportunity to provide more public input. I don’t intend to further a political career beyond this role which will allow me to be more objective in my decisions. For many years, when local elections are held, the business community has tried to engage business people to run for those positions, however, no one could ever afford to step up. I have a window of time since my retirement to give back to the community and work for everyone’s benefit.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
Transparency – Investment of taxpayer dollars require a more open and transparent process.
Collaboration – The City should be coordinating with the other public agencies and the private sector to develop solutions to common community problems.
Longer term strategic planning and budgeting – The City has a thorough process for developing a two year budget plan and a longer term Capital Investment Plan, however, recent projects have been inserted that have not had sufficient community input and have taken priority crowding out basic services such as infrastructure and public safety.

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
The Mayor has been in elected public office since 1999 and has only recently discussed the importance of an open process. He has been involved in City government leadership for nearly 12 years and it is time for fresh leadership with new ideas and approaches to doing business.

Please rate the overall job performance of city staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
The City is operated by a professional staff that reports to the City Manager who gets direction from the Mayor and the City Council. I do not feel it is appropriate to evaluate the performance of all city staff as a group. Each employee should be considered on their own and be held accountable by the City Manager who is accountable to the City Council for the performance of all staff. I am I favor of developing better and more open communication and coordination between different departments in City Hall, the Mayor’s office and the City Council.

Does the city of Wichita need more firefighters?
I understand discussions are underway with Sedgwick County to consider some functional consolidation of fire services between the two governments. The result should include a full analysis of the City/County needs and staffing should be determined at that time.

Does the city of Wichita need more police officers?
Yes, a 2015 study from a consultant indicated a deficiency of nearly 80 police officers across the entire department. Although nearly 60 police officers have been added in the past couple of years, most were hired to replace retiring or resigned positions. The Council recommended a three-phase implementation of the consultant’s report and phase 1 has still not been completely implemented. Phases 2 and 3 have not been considered in the City’s budget at this time.

Recent news coverage has highlighted an increasing crime rate and has helped point out the deficiency in staffing and facilities. I believe the ability to fully fund department needs is one example of other projects crowding out core services of the City.

Should the city of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
I believe the City needs to continue to allocate resources to support arts and culture as it is important to maintaining or improving quality of place. Both public and private support of the arts will continue to make Wichita a desirable place in which to live and work. In order to remain competitive with peer cities, a vibrant, inclusive and diverse community is essential. The arts allow our city to remain unique and attractive to those who live here and those who are visiting. An appropriate investment in arts and culture should continuously be made to maintain our community spirit and personality.

When it comes to city spending and budget do you believe the city spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
I believe basic services have been crowded out recently by special projects. As a result, we have a shortage of police officers and our streets and roads are deteriorating faster than they can be repaired or replaced. These basic services that are the responsibility of the City are crowded out by new projects that have been introduced. Although growth and development are very important, it should not occur at the expense of basic services. I am also concerned about our long-term debt obligations that require current operating funds to service.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
It is quite clear that we are missing out on many opportunities due to the limitations of our current convention facilities. Part of the longer-term planning that I advocate includes gathering input from efforts like those being undertaken by the Riverfront Legacy Coalition and the professional consultants to better inform us on the optimal solution that considers professional research and input from the entire community.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
Like our convention capabilities, we are missing out on opportunities to attract many shows and performances due to the limitations of our present facilities. Our solution should be focused on what will serve the community most effectively and that is included in a longer-term strategic approach rather than on a single building.

What role does the city of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
The City is an important partner in our region’s economic development efforts. As Mayor, I would listen to the needs of area employers and entrepreneurs and support all efforts to attract, expand and retain our area businesses. The Mayor can serve as the lead ambassador for the community to call on prospects, engage in assembling available tools to aid in completing offer packages and to actively participate with other public and private players to assure continuous economic growth. However, the Mayor is not the chief negotiator for the city and must seek input from other Council members, City staff and the public before commitments are made with taxpayer funds.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
In Kansas, there are tools available to assist in supplementing deals to increase the attractiveness of a deal. However, incentives should not be used to replace equity or risk capital of an investor who stands to gain the most from a project. Some of our debt obligations are the result of incentives offered and not tracked. If incentives are appropriately used, there must be accountability from all projects that are supported by such incentives.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
As a former Chair of the Chamber, I have long known how important the Chamber is as a partner of government. In its advocacy role, the Chamber assists in influencing public policy to eliminate roadblocks to business while maintaining responsible structure of our public policy.

Please share any other thoughts or other important information that this questionnaire did not cover and that you believe is relevant to our decision making process.
For many years, I have participated in the Government Relations Committee along with other roles at the Chamber. Every time there is a local election, there has been a call to Chamber members to find candidates who have experience in business and who can provide leadership to our local government. I am now in a position to step forward and offer my services to our community with no plans for further political ambitions and only in the spirit of giving back.

Why should Young Professionals vote for you?
I am motivated to run for the office of the Mayor of Wichita to make a contribution at the end of my career to prepare to hand off leadership of our city to the next generation. I have the time and the experience necessary to give back and help prepare the path for my children and grandchildren. My son and his family live in Wichita and I want to contribute to strengthening our economy, improving our infrastructure, rebuilding our law enforcement resources and focusing on what we can afford for the long term. My leadership style is to engage all voices and learn from the contributions of many to make Wichita the kind of place that attracts talented people and welcomes returning Wichitans to help our community grow and prosper.

Rep. Brandon Whipple



Please explain why you believe you are the best candidate for Wichita Mayor.

I’ve served in the Legislature for the past seven years, and I’ve seen how strong local leadership can work with business and state entities to improve the quality of life in our local communities. No one leader can manage for this responsibility himself, and I believe the incumbent has done a wholly inadequate job on this score. Instead of openness and innovation at City Hall, Wichita gets backroom deals and the same failed processes with the same players, pitting neighborhoods and other interests against one another. Meanwhile, the public has steadily lost trust in City Hall’s ability to make these developments wisely and effectively. I believe the only way out of this cycle is growth. We can continue to grow the pie, building on the successes of downtown investment. But we need to make sure we have the infrastructure and resources in place to help draw the best talent and business leaders to Wichita. That’s a job that requires a Citywide view.

I have the leadership skills and depth of experience in the political process to get this critical task started on day one. As Mayor, I will use my experience and energy to set specific policy objectives for our City and to actively engage in the process of achieving those objectives from start to finish. I am the leader Wichita needs to bring our City into the future by engaging policy makers from all levels of government to work together and create an efficient services for our citizens.

As Mayor, what would be your top three priorities or areas of focus?
My top priority will be to change the culture of City Hall from a place for insider deals made behind closed doors to a transparent and professional body that is accountable to the people. I could name five examples of recent times when our Mayor and the Council pushed through seemingly pre-determined results, or inappropriately scheduled hearings and votes all to be blamed on staff. We all know this hurts our City government’s standing among its constituency, and makes the business of improving our image next to impossible. I understand inside players and the desire for expediency will always exist in government. However, I think we can all agree we must as a City do better, and that’s why I believe transparency to be so important.

Second, I will focus on examining our resources and moving to properly increase funding for our police. Further, we must coordinate mental health services more effectively so the WPD is not expected to deal with that burden alone. For years, our City leadership, including the chief of police, has told us how underfunded and understaffed our Police Department is. We see the effects of this neglect in the newspaper and in statistics. And many across the City know how deeply our area’s lack of access to proper mental health care affects our families.

Third, I will continue the pattern of strong investment in and inclination toward downtown development projects, while working to make sure our City has the means to draw the best and brightest minds to come live, work, and play here. We must ensure that we find ways to fully invest in our neighborhood resources like swimming pools,libraries, and City resources like museums, and world-class performing arts and convention facilities. These resources make up a key part of our City, and I believe to be full of untapped economic potential: growing our civic infrastructure.

Please state why you believe incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell should not be re-elected.
Jeff Longwell points to his success as Mayor, claiming things have gotten better under his watch. Yes, undoubted, by his numbers things look rosy.  However, his cited achievements are much like when a student grades his own paper. Mayor Longwell touts growth in Wichita by comparing where we are now in 2019 with Wichita during the depths of the Great Recession. When you examine comparable numbers during this wider span from our sister cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City, you see Wichita fell behind, and has lagged in recovery. Sure Mayor Longwell, things are “better.” The bleeding has stopped, but growth has been anemic. It’s as if I was at one time at the hospital in critical condition and am now “better” having moved to “stable” condition. And I think we from all neighborhoods can feel that pain as a City. Beyond any other criticism of Jeff Longwell, he’s grading faulty numbers and calling it an A+. That incompetence is disqualifying on its own. As Mayor, I want to dig in deep to find innovative paths forward for Wichita, grading ourselves against comparable markets, learning from their experiences, and partnering with civic and business groups, and beyond to the state and federal level, to break this new ground. I’m eager to make this City better for my three boys when they start their futures. I want to use my energy and leadership experience to bring Wichita into the future so we can not only rival cities in our region, but lead them. If we say we “love Wichita,” do we not want the best for our City? We’ve had enough of leaders who spend time patting themselves on the back. I say judge me and my work for the City by my results.

Please rate the overall job performance of City staff on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best.
Overall, 8: Above average, with room to improve. Here’s how: I’ve met and worked with dozens if not hundreds of City employees in my work and in my private life. Without reservation, I’ve found Wichita City employees are hard-working people who genuinely care about our community. However, ineffective leadership at the top can often times make their jobs very difficult, if not impossible. We must do everything we can to support our City staff and ensure they have the training and resources to do their jobs well. As Mayor, it will be a priority to establish clear plans and directives, and public-facing expectations for staff. With clear direction, management can focus on achieving our goals and City staff will have the resources and support to provide top-notch services to our community.

Does the City of Wichita need more firefighters?
Public safety is a top priority and I applaud the City for moving towards consolidation of our fire department with the county. However, my priority will be to ensure that we do not lose the brave men and women who currently work for the fire departments during this transition. Investing in properly trained staff at adequate levels will always be a top priority for me as Mayor.

Does the City of Wichita need more police officers?
Yes, and fixing this problem is a top priority. According to the City’s own study, the police department only has two-thirds of the police officers we need to keep our community safe. It is critical that Wichita families are safe no matter what neighborhood you live in. As Mayor, I commit to finding the funding to give the WPD the additional officers they need within my first 100 days in office.

Should the City of Wichita spend more money on arts and culture?
In the Legislature, I have supported increased funding for the arts because it is a direct economic driver for our cities, and it is a key source of quality of life and educational enrichment for our working Wichita families. In order to retain young and diverse talent, we need to invest more in quality of life in Wichita. I call it our civic infrastructure. Also, cities that invest in the arts are more innovative, thus stimulating the economy directly. Our arts community has told us plainly Century II is outdated, no longer serving Wichita as a world-class facility. I think for our economy’s sake, and for Wichita’s future, we have to recognize the deep potential in our arts, funding it appropriately.

When it comes to City spending and budget do you believe the City spends too little, too much, or is spending about right?
Like all governmental bodies, the City of Wichita spends money in inefficient ways. During my time on the Higher Education Budget Committee, I focused on cutting costs by ending the duplication of services, creating collaboration between libraries on paid subscriptions for journals and using technology to maximize efficiency. I think one of the most important jobs of Wichita’s Mayor is to spend time combing through our budget and providing the resources the data tells us should be a priority, instead of wasting money on insider deals that do not help the City as a whole.

Do you support building a new convention center? Please explain.
Creating a world-class regional convention center is another question of investing our civic infrastructure. Such a center could be a major driver of downtown revitalization with runoff effects across the state. We are the largest city in Kansas and we must work with our business community to provide the type of facilities they need to host large events and that drive more money into our economy. This is not a project the City should take on alone. As Mayor, I will emphasize collaboration with the community, opening relationships with more national business partners like hotel chains, restaurateurs, and developers, to create the type of space we need to compete with other cities in our region. Like the need to create a world-class performing arts facility, I believe a cutting-edge convention center should go hand-in-hand with this wider plan.

Do you support building a new performing arts center? Please explain.
Again, we must invest in our civic infrastructure. If we want Wichita to grow into the future as the City we dream for our kids to inherit, we must invest in our arts and culture. When leaders of the arts community warn they cannot host leading performances due to facility restrictions, we are faced with a decision: do we limit the experiences available to our community and our children? Or do we choose something more? I am running for Mayor because I want to bring this City together for a greater purpose: acting on the pride we feel. I want our kids to grow up in a City worthy of their dreams, just like folks did back in the 60s when they realized The Forum was outdated. We must demand a world-class home for our performing and greater arts communities. The task won’t be easy. I want to work with community and business leaders to gain the trust and buy-in of the entire region and get this performance center done right. Maybe it’s renovating Century II. Maybe it’s envisioning an entirely new center, as part of a larger civic plan, that will serve the next century of Wichitans. We need a leader who will sit down with various community leaders in our City and work with them to provide what they tell us they need to be successful. In my experience as a legislator, these solutions are usually less involved than we’d expect, but finding those solutions requires innovative leadership to put the pieces together. I look forward to the challenge.

What role does the City of Wichita play in economic development and job creation and what would you do as Mayor to grow our regional economy?
As Mayor, I would take an active role to ensure that the City is collaborating with the county, state and Federal government to maximize the potential resources we secure. I consider providing a leading transportation, digital, and civic infrastructure to be a top priority for our City leadership, led by the Mayor. In terms of economic development, I would hope my leadership in office would be marked by a focus on governmental efficiency and an opportunity and partnership-minded outlook.
This leadership includes making sure that government stays out of the way of growth in areas where it would likely be more successful in the private sector. A responsible Mayor knows when to step in,making sure that there is transparency and equity in City partnerships.

Should tax dollars or incentives such as tax abatements be given to private firms in order to retain or increase jobs?
Yes, but in limited, and highly-scrutinized, circumstances. Like with all incentives, City incentives must be tied to concrete economic goals and objectives that act as safeguards for the taxpayer. Too many times we see incentives work well...for those who design the incentives, but leave the average working family on the hook. That’s not an ideology problem, that’s a cronyism problem. As Mayor, my job is to ensure that tax dollars and incentives are used to benefit the whole and not just the best-connected.

If elected Mayor, how would you interact with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce? What role would the Chamber play in your overall decision-making process?
As a legislator, I’ve always worked first for the people who I am elected to represent, and that of course includes our business leaders. The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role bringing together diverse stakeholders in our City, and it’s unquestionably a crucial organization in the work toward our greater success. The success of the Wichita business community is success for all our working men and women. As Mayor, I will make it a priority to meet within the first week of my term with leadership and members of the Chamber of Commerce with one goal: to listen. By that time, you as my constituents will have simultaneously become my boss, and I need to know as your public servant how I can help make you more successful. And moving forward, I commit to making the Chamber a leading partner of my Administration. I envision regular staff and principal meetings, providing more venues for listening, progress reports, and feedback. Constant, candid communication will be key to our shared priorities.

Please share any other thoughts or other important information that this questionnaire did not cover and that you believe is relevant to our decision making process.
I have represented Wichita in the Legislature and have seen up close how our City is missing out on opportunities for state and federal infrastructure and project investments. Unlike Topeka and the Unified Wyandotte County Government, our local leadership has failed to fight for our City for these limited state and federal resources. This is a challenge I’m eager to take on.

One point I’ll leave with you: When I make policy decisions, they are based on data, and out of consideration for my constituents. I do not, and have never, take marching orders from political bosses. I take marching orders only from the people I represent. That includes business owners, working families, and community groups here at home. Wichita is the home my wife and I chose, and I want it to be the place my sons can achieve their dreams. One day, I hope all of our kids choose to continue calling Wichita home themselves. And that’s why I’m running for Mayor. Thanks for your consideration.

Note: We did not receive a completed questionnaire or video recording time from Candidate Mark Gietzen.

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Comments

5 comments on "Get To Know the Candidates for Wichita's Mayor"

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Floyd DeBarber on August 6, 2019 at 8:53:11 am said:
I would steer clear of Mr. Mork. He's a nice enough guy face to face, but he holds some very toxic and archaic viewpoints. He is on record calling gays "ungodly". I want a mayor who doesn't base their views solely on what the Bible says. Mork has an irrational axe to grind with gays, the police and incumbents. He has no higher education and doesn't have a clearly articulated platform. He seems overly focused on legalized cannabis at the expense of far more pressing matters germane to Wichita.. We need a mayor who has a better grasp of economics and budgets than someone with no track record. Except for his pot arrests and two listed jobs in his bio, we know next to nothing about him.
Christopher Cutler on July 30, 2019 at 11:24:08 am said:
What about TAXES? seems there is sales taxes added for the development, i.e Intrust Bank arena, Why is it the responsibilty of the tax payers, I don't use it! If I do I pay a very expensive ticket prices for event.
E.L. Puko on July 23, 2019 at 5:02:38 pm said:
Marty seems obsessed.
Lonny Wright on July 20, 2019 at 10:26:59 pm said:
This is better than the forums.
I finally get to know who is pro jobs and who is against.
Unfortunately both Wells and Whipple are less supportive of even Longwell who cut on back on incentives big time.
It's stupid to turn down new money and jobs because a business also makes money. That's hurting us.
It's embarrassing how little some of the candidates understand how the City operates or what is going on.
Sarah on July 19, 2019 at 5:51:52 pm said:
Thank you Wichita Regional Chamber for providing this information and in this format that has all candidates treated equally. This is extremely helpful for me to be an informed citizen and voter.
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