With the June 1 filing deadline past, the 2017 election season is on, with a surprising number of first time candidates and experienced elected officials seeking new positions. This is the first year for November elections for school board and city council. In the past, these elections were held in April, but in an effort to standardize all elections to November, the Kansas legislature voted to move these elections to November in odd years. It’s a move they hope will increase voter participation in the election process.
Four candidates filed for the District 1 Wichita City Council seat to replace incumbent Lavonta Williams who cannot run again because of term limits. Four candidates is the threshold to require a primary. So, these candidates will be off and running to get your attention and your vote in the August 1 primary. In Wichita, this race is the only one with a primary.
District 1 covers the core Northeast Wichita community and Williams is currently the only African American on the City Council. The candidates are:
Brandon Johnson, executive director of a community non-profit, formally announced his run for the position a year ago. Johnson is a first time candidate.
Mike Kinard is a former two-term member of the USD 259 School Board. He also made an unsuccessful run for Sedgwick County Commission, losing by less than 100 votes. The owner of a photography business, Kinard has a long history of community involvement.
Janet Wilson is another first-time candidate. She also has a long history of involvement in the community, is president of her neighborhood association, a member of the District 1 advisory board and active in the Wichita Independent Neighborhood Association.
John Stevens a conservative activist and president of the Republican Pachyderm Club is also a candidate for this position. Stevens was a previous unsuccessful candidate for the Kansas House.
The two candidates that receive the most votes in the primary will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Debra J. Washington, a local realtor, is a candidate for the East Wichita District 2 Seat on the School Board. Washington is a first time candidate. There are two other candidates for the seat: Trish HIleman, a bookeeper, and Julie Hedrick, a retired USD 259 employee. The incumbent Joy Eakins is not seeking re-election.
Shirley Jefferson, is a former school board member who left the board nearly a decade ago. She’s back, seeking election for District 6, which covers North Central Wichita. Jefferson previously represented District 1, the position currently held by Betty Arnold. Arnold’s seat is not up for election this year.
The incumbent in this district, Lynn Rogers, is not seeking re-election. He was elected to the Kansas Senate last November.
Shirley has two opponents: Walt Chappel, a former member of the Kansas Board of Education, and Ron Rosales, a teacher in the Haysville School District
Salina City Commissioner Trent Davis is not up for re-election this year.
Ramona Newsom filed for a two-year seat on the USD 305 School Board. A little over a year ago, Newsom was appointed to fill an open seat on the board. She also ran for election in 2015, but came in fifth for four open seats. Newsom is a technical specialist for a local firm and serves as minister of music At New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. Newsom has one opponent, Gary Denning, who is an attorney who previously served 12 years on the board.
With the incumbent not seeking re-election, Topeka has a hot race for mayor with five candidates. They’ll face-off in the August Primary to get the list to two for the general election.
John Williams is the only African-American candidate in Topeka. He is unopposed for another term on the USD 450 school board.
Kansas City has a hot mayor’s race with incumbent Mayor Mark Holland drawing four opponents. Ks. Sen. David Haley was last to enter the race. Haley an attorney, has served in the Kansas legislature for 23 years. He previously ran for mayor about 20 years ago making it to the general election, but lost to Carol Marinovich.
This is also a second run for mayor for Janice Grant Witt, who also ran for the office in 2013. Witt is a financial services broker. Other candidates include: first time candidate D. Keith Jordan, a local radio personality and David Alvey, a current member of the Board of Public Utilities. Alvey is an assistant principal at Rockhurst High School.
Political Newcomer Kendon McClaine has filed for the District 8 Seat on the Wyandotte Unified Government Commission. He is taking on incumbent Jane Philbrook and a third candidate Brad Isnard.
First-term City District 1 Commissioner Gayle Townsend drew an opponent Victor A. Harris. The district covers far northeast Wyandotte County.