Carl Brewer, Wichita mayor from 2007 to 2015, died earlier this morning after an extended illness.
Brewer, 63, was Wichita’s first, and so far the only, elected Black mayor.
Brewer, a Wichita native, was born in 1957. One of six children, he was raised primarily by his mother with the assistance of his grandparents. He was educated in the Wichita public school system and graduated from Wichita North High School in 1975.
He attended Friends University. Brewer worked in the aviation industry (Boeing, Spirit, and Cessna) for 32 years. He began as a sheet metal worker and joined the Machinists Union, and went onto come a union steward. He later advanced to a position as a manufacturing engineer and eventually moved onto the management team at Spirit Aviation. Brewer retired from Spirit in early 2017.
Brewer served in the Kansas Army National Guard, becoming the first African American President of his Officer Candidate School Class. In the Guard, he served as Company Commander of infantry and artillery companies.
Brewer represented Wichita’s City Council District 1 from 2001 to 2007. On April 3, 2007, he defeated incumbent Carlos Mayans in the race for mayor of Wichita by 61% to 37 %. The city council chambers were packed and overflowing for his swearing in ceremony. People were proud to have him as their mayor and he never disappointed them.
We reached out to former City Council member Lavonta Williams, who succeeded Brewer on the City Council; she was too emotional to provide a comment at this time. The two worked closely together while Brewer was mayor to bring about many positive changes for Wichita’s 1st District and for the City as a whole. The two were so close, she often referred to him as her brother.
Brewer was a tall, thick, Black man who might have proven intimidating to many, but he would easily win you over with his smile and gentle personality. One of his best leadership skills was his ability to listen. If you would come to Brewer with a problem, he’d let you talk and he would listen.
He once told me that listening shows respect and helps build strong relationships. It allowed him to not only better understand the issue, but the individual’s intentions and feelings. People want to feel like they’re being heard, Brewer said.
In 2017, Brewer became the first Democrat to announce his run for Governor of Kansas in the 2018 election. In a crowded Democratic primary held in August 2018, Brewer placed second behind current Governor Laura Kelly.
That would be his last political run. Shortly after, his health began to fail. His death was from kidney complications that were further complicated by cancer.