The filing deadline for the Nov. 5 general election has passed and the Aug. 6 primaries are almost upon Kansas voters. July 16 is the last day to register to vote in the primary - and you can register online here https://www.kdor.ks.gov/Apps/VoterReg/Default.aspx
In these off-year elections, Kansans will elect school and city council officials, and members to a variety of boards, including junior college, water and other utility boards.
This year, we found more than a dozen African-American candidates running for office, including three Black candidates for the mayor of Wichita - that ties the number in KCMO’s mayoral race earlier this year.
Wichita’s incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell is seeking his second and final (due to term limits) four-year term as mayor of the state’s largest city. Longwell, has drawn eight other contenders who believe they can do a better job than he has, including three African-American men, all of whom are surprisingly young, and running without any political experience. Neither of these are points that should disqualify them from making an excellent mayor, it’s a point worth noting. We’re glad to see the young – especially the brothers – stepping up.
With nine candidates in the race, Wichitans will narrow the field to the top two candidates with their vote in the Aug. 6 primary.
Brock Booker, who works in male retail clothing sales, is a native of Southeast Kansas. Many may know him as an active member, and often a soloist, for the ARISE Choir.
Ian Demory, an educator and artist, says he’s not a career politician and that’s good. “What I am is a citizen who wants to stand with and for the citizens of all walks of life. And that's what I feel this city needs.”
Joshua Atkinson is a master HVAC mechanic and SMART sheet metal Local Union #2 Journeyman. He describes himself as a “proud, working-class family man.” He and his wife have three young children.
Wichita School Board, USD 259
There are currently no people of color on Wichita’s School board, even though the school district is a majority-minority district. Only one African American is seeking election in any of the three districts seats up for contention this year.
Joseph Shepard is running for election in the at-large seat on the Wichita School Board and he has lots of competition, including the incumbent. The four will face off in the Aug. 6 primary. Shepard, who works as the director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life at Newman University, is a relatively recent graduate of Wichita State University, where he gained election experience in two successful runs for student body president
Because of a low number of candidates, Shawnee County will not be holding a primary election. We understand there are two candidates to follow: Tamika Terry, who is running for the District 2 seat on the Topeka City Council and Keith Tatum, who is running for the At Large seat on the Topeka USD 501 School Board.
Kansas City UG Commission
There are five seats on the Wyandotte County Unified Government Commission up for election this year and there will be a primary in three of them – District 1 At Large, District 3 and District 4. and there are African-American candidates in two of the three races.
Steven James, a homegrown Kansas Citian, is a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Unified Government Commission. He works as a mentor with ThrYve, a program working through KCK Schools to reduce youth violence. “Change comes from the bottom, not the top,” wrote Steven, and he believes he can be the change Kansas City needs.
There are three candidates in his race, including incumbent Melissa Bynum. They will face-off in the August primary.
Sitting 4th District Commissioner Harold Johnson is running to maintain his position on the UG Commission. Johnson is senior pastor of Faith Deliverance Family Worship Center, COGIC. There are two other candidates in his race, so they will face off in next month’s primary.
Opposing Johnson is Tarence Maddox, who previously served one term as the 4th district commissioner. Maddox has tagged himself “the Urgent Option.” “Our community has reached an urgent point of disparity,” Maddox said.
KCK Board of Public Utilities
The Board of Public Unities controls the production and distribution of water and electricity in KCK. There are three seats on the board up for contention in this election cycle. All three seats have multiple candidates requiring the candidate list to be narrowed during the August primary.
Running for the District 1 seat on the BPU board are Robert “Bob” Milan and Minister LaRon Thompson. Milan, the incumbent, is retired and has served on the BPU board since 1991. Since May 2018, Thompson has been interim pastor at Paseo Baptist Church, KCMO.
Running for the District 3 at large seat on the BPU board are Chiquita Coggs and David Haley. Coggs is the former director of the Kansas Board of Cosmetology. Haley is a long-term Kansas Senator, representing the district that covers most of Northeast Kansas City, KS. Yes, he can legally hold both positions. There are four other candidates in that race, for a total of six.
KCKCC Board of Trustees
Will not hold a primary election.
KCK School Board, USD 500
Will not hold a primary election. Both the KCKCC Board of Trustees and USD 500 have numerous candidates to keep an eye on. We’ll make sure to cover these races ahead of the November election.