African-American Candidates Running for Office

The Aug. 6 primaries are almost upon Kansas voters. If you don’t know if you’re registered or need to check your polling place, look here

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 Mayor

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

Topeka Elections

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.

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Who’s Running? Where Do I Vote Early? What Do I Need?



Jeff Longwell (incumbent)

Marty Mork

Brock E. Booker

Ian M. Demory

Joshua M. Atkinson

Mark S. Gietzen

Amy Lyon

Brandon Whipple

Lyndy Wells


Joseph Brian Scapa – Dist. 2

Rodney Wren – Dist. 2

Becky Tuttle – Dist. 2

Christopher Parisho – Dist. 4

Beckie Jenek – Dist. 4

Jeff Blubaugh – Dist. 4


Brent T. Davis – At-Large

Sheril Logan – At-Large

Trish Hileman – At-Large

Joseph W. Shepard – At-Large



Melissa Brune Bynum – Dist. 1 At-Large

Mark Gilstrap – Dist. 1 At-Large

Steven James – Dist. 1 At-Large

Mary V. Gerlt – Dist. 3

Ann Murguia – Dist. 3

Christian A. Ramirez – Dist. 3

Jorge Luis Flores – Dist. 4

Harold Johnson – Dist. 4

Tarence L. Maddox – Dist. 4


Robert “Bob” Milan – Dist. 1

Ken Snyder – Dist. 1

LaRon Thompson – Dist. 1

Jeff Bryant – Dist. 3

Aaron Coleman – Dist. 3

Dustin K. Dye – Dist. 3

Stan S. Frownfelter – Dist. 3

Chiquita C. Coggs – Dist. 3 – At-Large

David Haley – Dist. 3 – At-Large

Rose Mulvany Henry – Dist. 3 – At-Large

Melissa Oropeza-Vail – Dist. 3 – At-Large

Faith L. Rivera – Dist. 3 – At-Large

Norman D. Scott – Dist. 3 – At-Large


Kansas City, Kansas

Election Office: 850 State Avenue, KCK

July 29 – Aug. 2 | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sat., July 27 and Aug. 3 | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Mon., Aug. 5 | 8 a.m. – 12 Noon

Eisenhower Rec Center: 2901 N. 72nd St., KCK

Sat., July 27 ONLY | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Argentine Community Center: 2810 Metropolitan Ave, KCK

Sat., July 27 ONLY | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Sedgwick County Courthouse: 510 N. Main, Suite 101

July 29 – Aug 2 | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mon., Aug 5 | 8 a.m. – Noon

A select few advance voting locations in East Wichita

(Visit for more locations.)

Bel Aire City Building, 7651 E. Center Park, Bel Aire

Sharon Baptist Church, 2221 S. Oliver

Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 2727 E. 25th St. N.

Grace Presbyterian Church, 5002 E. Douglas Ave.

Reformation Lutheran, 7601 E. 13th St. N.

Hours at these locations are

Aug 1 & 2 | Noon to 7 p.m.

Sat., Aug. 3, | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vote on Election Day:

Wyandotte Co. local polling places are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., while Sedgwick Co. polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Check your polling place at


Kansas law requires all voters to show an approved photographic ID when voting. Most voters choose to use their valid and current driver’s license, or the following:

•Driver’s License or ID Card issued by any state or district of the United States

•Concealed carry license issued by any state or district of the United States

•U.S. Passport

•U.S. military ID

•Government employee badge or ID

•Student ID issued by an accredited Kansas college or university

•Student or employee ID issued by a local public school district

•Public assistance ID issued by a municipal, county, state or federal government office

•An identification card issued by an Indian tribe


• 866-OUR-VOTE provides assistance in English

• 888-VE-Y-VOTA provides billingual assistance in Spanish

• 888-API-VOTE provides assistance in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Begali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog.

Wichita Mayoral Candidates Reach Out

Special thanks to Wichita mayoral candidates who think the local African-American community is worth reaching out to through advertisements in an African-American-owned publication. Good luck to you all.

Voting for Mayor is More Important Than Voting for President

Voting for the president is often the first thing that comes to mind when most of us think of taking political action. While it’s true that voting for the highest office is important, the changes that most affect our day-to-day lives are often closer to our backyards than to Washington. I’m talking about local elections.

While the presidential campaigns get most of the media spotlight, the president doesn’t have as much of a direct impact on the lives of citizens as you might think. Our local elected officials are the ones who dictate the local laws, policies and budgets that affect us the most, and these officials are being elected every year with little citizen involvement.

If you’ve spent most of your time focusing on national politics, you’re not alone. But here are

the top three reasons voting for mayor, 

and representatives for other local offices, could mean the difference between creating the change you want to see or keeping with the status quo:

1) Local government manages a lot of different things— and their decisions will directly affect your life.

There is no level of government that is more directly responsible for serving your community than your local elected officials. Local government can affect almost every aspect of your daily life. Here’s just a few of the things they’re responsible for:

•Local school quality

•Deciding sanctuary jurisdiction status

•Policing and public safety (and holding police accountable)

•Rent costs and affordable housing

•Public transit

•Alcohol and marijuana ordinances

•City colleges and job training programs

. . . the list goes on and on, all the way down to your recycling options and collection.

To sum it up: your local government has a lot of money and influence to decide what your community’s priorities are and how it will be run.

2) State and local governments lead the way when the federal government isn’t.

For many of us, the 2016 election was a rough one. Like, really rough. More than any other voting bloc, our chosen candidates ultimately didn’t win. But there’s still a way to harness your passions and make a real difference, and that’s by getting involved in municipal elections.

Did you know that many landmark federal policies first originated at the local level? It’s true — local politics have a long history of shaping change in our country from the ground up. Policies such as women’s suffrage, minimum wage, environmental protection, and marriage equality all began at the local and state level.

By voting in local elections and holding your officials accountable, you can help create the change you want to see in our country. If nothing is moving forward at the federal level (or your federal representatives aren’t making progress in areas that you care about), it’s the responsibility of local governments to take action.

3) Your vote will make a difference.

Typically, just 1 in 5 voters participate in off-year local elections — meaning your vote at the local level can have an even bigger impact. For example, on just one election day in Ohio, 7 local issues were decided by just 1 vote.

Plus, if you do participate (and help your friends and family get to the polls, too), your elected officials will be more responsive to your needs and interests because you’re a voter. And if they aren’t, the next election is a great way to fix that…

African Americans in Kansas Registered, but Not Voting 

It appears community organizations across Kansas have done a great job getting African-American Kansans registered to vote, where they’ve fallen short is on getting them to polls.

A query of the Voter Action Network (VAN), a software program used by the Democratic Party to track potential voters and get them out to vote, shows fairly consistently only about half of registered African Americans in Kansas have voted in at least two of the three elections covering the 2016 presidential election, the 2014 midterm election and the 2012 presidential election.

While participation in midterm elections is typically low, this query means, these individuals most likely didn’t vote in one of the last two presidential elections: – the 2012 Obama re-election or the 2016 Trump election. In addition, that query also includes individuals who didn’t vote in any of the past three elections.

Kevin Myles, Southeast Regional Director for the NAACP, says the NAACP is moving its focus from registering people to vote to get out the infrequent voters.

“We’ve done a great job getting folks registered, but folks are not turning out to vote,” says Myles, who trains organizations across the country on how to use VAN.

Fairly consistently across the country, Myles says there are twice as many African-American infrequent registered voters as there are African American people who are unregistered.

“If we’re to make an impact on elections, our focus has to be on getting folks to the polls,” says Myles.

In response, the Wichita Branch NAACP is using data acquired from VAN to go door-to-door to try to engage infrequent voters, speak to them about the importance of voting, help them address issues that might get in the way of their voting, and to get them to the polls on Aug. 6. They’re engaging other organizations to work with them around this issue.

For larger image, right click and “open image in new tab.”

Brock Booker

Paid for by Brock E. Booker for Mayor, Braden Lett, Treasurer

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Amy Lyon

Paid for by Amy Lyon for Wichita, Donna Wirth, Treasurer

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Jeff Longwell

Paid for by Jeff Longwell for Mayor Committee, Mike Kuckelman, Treasurer

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Lyndy Wells

Paid for by Lyndy Wells for Mayor, Allison Grace Treasurer