Wichita, other city elections on horizon

Next spring Wichita and other cities in Kansas will hold elections for city council members, school board members, and perhaps mayor.

The filing deadline for candidates is January 25, 2011 at noon. The primary election is on March 1, and the general election is April 5.

These elections are non-partisan, meaning that candidates don’t run as members of a political party. Instead, the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election.

The election calendar is a problem. Kansans presently have their political attention focused on our August primary, in which there are many hotly-contested battles. After that comes the November general election, which is likely to feature several races that generate intense interest and participation. Then comes the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, when few want to think about politics.

Right after that is the filing deadline for city elections, and then quickly, the primary and general elections. It’s a schedule designed for incumbents.

In Wichita, there are three city council positions and the mayorship that are up for election. In district two, (click here for a map of districts), which is primarily the east side of Wichita, incumbent council member Sue Schlapp can’t run again because of the law limiting council members and the mayor to two four-year terms.

In district four — south and southwest Wichita — Paul Gray has also served two terms and can’t run again.

In district five — west and northwest Wichita — incumbent council member and Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell is in his first term and can run again if he chooses. He hasn’t revealed his plans publicly.

Mayor Carl Brewer is also in his first term and can run again. I’ve not heard him reveal his plans.

So far three candidates have publicly declared their intent to run. Former Executive Director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party Jason Dilts has been actively running for the fourth district position for several months.

In April securities broker and tea party activist Lynda Tyler announced her intent to run in district five against Longwell.

Last week Galichia Heart Hospital CEO Steve Harris threw his hat in the ring for city council district two.

There are others — well-known and not — that are considering running.

Expect these issues to dominate the campaigns: First, downtown development — especially how to pay for it — is likely to be a dominant topic, as the Goody Clancy final plan is scheduled to be completed this fall. We can expect tremendous amounts of campaign funds to be directed to those candidates who favor taxpayer support and subsidy for politically-favored developers.

As many Wichita political and civic leaders speak admiringly of the city sales tax that has funded downtown redevelopment in Oklahoma City, we might even see a sales tax question on the primary or general election ballot.

The issue of taxpayer-funded economic development — whether downtown or elsewhere — may receive discussion too. Both Longwell and Brewer believe that Wichita doesn’t have enough “tools in the toolbox” for dishing out subsidy and tax breaks.

Water is likely to be an issue too, as Wichita’s water rates are going up.


15 thoughts on “Wichita, other city elections on horizon”

  1. Let the City Council make all of Downtown a CID (Community Improvement District) that will make it self financing. The City Council has the authority to enact it if they have business approval.
    If we are going to have a local sales tax increase it better be for residential property tax reduction.

  2. A 1 cent sales tax would eliminate all residential property tax at the City level. A county 1 cent sales tax would be even better for the tax paying citizens of this County. It is often noted that 25% of sales taxes are paid from persons and business from outside the affected area. I proposed a sales tax to replace property taxes when I ran for County Commissioner. My opponent responded that property taxes were a much more stable taxing vehicle. I guess the recession proved that one wrong.

  3. If Jeff Longwell and Carl Brewer believe that “Wichita doesn’t have enough “tools in the toolbox” for dishing out subsidy and tax breaks” then why are they voting in favor of so many for the downtown projects? Are they now trying to act like conservatives because they are facing re-election? Actions speak louder than words.

  4. What Longwell and Brewer mean is that TIF districts, STAR bonds, Community Improvement Districts, Industrial Revenue Bonds, EDX property tax abatements, forgivable loans — this is not enough. They want even more programs — “tools” if you will — to help them with economic development.

    As I reported in an earlier story:

    [Brewer] told of how the city called mayors’ associations and the National League of Cities, and they said that most large cities use incentives. He learned that cities use some incentives that that Wichita has not yet heard of, which undoubtedly will give city staff some additional tools in the toolbox in the future.

    http://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/wichita-mayor-speaks-on-economic-development/

  5. Most mayor cities in the US (including Wichita) are in financial disarray, in part, because they are ran by Democrat mayors, like Carl Brewer, who love to spend taxpayer dollars. Our city elections were set up as non-partisan to help elect Democrats since Ks voter registration do favor Republicans. What City manger Layton did not tell you when he announced that there were going to be furloughs and pay cuts at the City is that Mayor Brewer and the City council are receiving hefty pay increases while unemployment in Wichita is almost 10%. It is good to see that candidates are filing for municipal elections.

  6. “Mayor Brewer and the City council are receiving hefty pay increases”

    That statement is not true. Please try to be accurate with your statements.

  7. Anonymous, do you object to the word “hefty” or are you saying that the Mayor and City Council are not receiving their automatic cola pay increases???

  8. According to the minutes of the June 15 city council meeting, none of the council members are accepting a raise:

    “Mayor Brewer stated he will not be accepting his raise.
    Council Member Schlapp stated she will not be accepting hers for this year.
    Council Member Williams stated she will not accept hers for this year.
    Council Member Miller stated she will not accept hers for this year.
    Council Member Skelton stated he will not accept his this year
    Council Member Gray stated he will not accept his.
    Vice Mayor Longwell stated he thinks it sets the table for what we are doing this year and would be happy to forego any raise.”

  9. Thank you, Linda Tyler, for running for municipal office in West Wichita. Incumbent Councilmember Jeff Longwell has been a tremendous dissappointment representing us the taxpayers. Mr. Longwell, frankly, has been the “lap-dog” of Democrat Mayor Brewer and voted for every special interest “giveaway” while taxing the citizens with higher water rates.

  10. Non-partisan perhaps. You are either for big government or against it. A libertarian candidate will be running in the 2nd District race.

  11. Bob,
    I understand that the “pay raise” for the Mayor and Council member was deferred until next year. Apparently, Schlapp gave a huge fit about having to pass up the extra money.

  12. The recent Wichita Eagle article about municipal candidates shows that the incumbents running for re-election portrayed a sense of entitlement to their positions. It is interesting to note that two of the Republicans council members are afraid to take on the liberal Democrat Mayor and are more comfortable running against each other at the next opportunity. Since Mr. Longwell faces a tough re-election for his Council seat (with an anti-incumbent electorate) he is better off running against the “do nothing Mayor”. Otherwise, he may lose his Council seat running as the “lap dog” of the Democrat Mayor and to what end? Former Mayor Knight may run for Mayor again? The worst thing for Mayor Brewer would be to be re-elected and to have Knight elected to the second district seat.

  13. It’s funny to listen to Libertarians talk about or, better yet, criticize Republicans, or even better yet, pretend to be conservative Republicans. As the saying goes, “wolf in sheep’s clothes……..”

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