The Aug. 6 primary election for Wichita Mayor is behind us, and there wasn’t much of a suprise that incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell advanced comfortably to the general election. His opponent in the General election was somewhat more surprising, with Ks Rep. Brandon Whipple barely beating out well-funded retired banker Lyndy Wells.
But for Wichita’s Black community, the surprise of the race had to be the three young Black male candidates who brought their fresh talent and views to the race.
The Black Candidates Who Ran
Brock Booker - 30, and a native of Parson’s Kansas, says he was inspired to run by his family, who have a history of involvement in politics. He chose, in part, to run as a tribute to them. He also found inspiration from Martin Luther King III. who Brock met when he spoke at Friends University.
With the experience behind him, his advice for anyone else considering a run, “save money so you can get through all that it entails. $5,000 is a good starting place, but it is difficult to throw events, even with money.”
Joshua Atkinson – 29 and the youngest candidate in the race, was inspired to be a voice for the people. His motivations lay with the ideology that if people are given the tools to direct their government – they would. People ought to be more informed by those that represent them.
He feels information about most topics are only shared with citizens on a surface level, and then were are expected to “fall in line” on one of two sides.
Like the other two candidates, he wouldn’t say no to running again. This was the first time all three ran for a political office, and they all agree, they learned valuable lesson they’ll share with those who come behind them.
Atkinson stated, “My advice is to be yourself and bring your change.”
Ian Demory – 40, a teacher for USD 261 (Haysville) struck a deal with high school seniors in his credit recovery class. If they all passed their final test, he’d run for mayor. Every student in the class passed and the rest is history.
During the campaign, Demory says he came face-to-face with considerable adversity. He had a hard time getting people to take him seriously – most of all those in the Democratic Party.
Like Booker, funding and sponsors were a difficult to find.
“I’m proud of the 231 people who voted for me. That’s 231 people that could have voted for any of the other eight candidates, he said. “I ran as a citizen who wanted to help citizens and I showed people that anybody can do it.”
These three young men surprised us all with their run for mayor’ and although the race did not turn out in their favor – they remained steadfast that it was the right thing to do.