The June 1 candidate filing deadline for the 2021 elections passed with a last-minute surge in candidates, forcing candidate-reducing primary elections for many of the races in Wichita and Kansas City.
The crowded election field also generated rare African-American candidate for statewide office. Michael Austin, a former economist for the Kansas Policy Institute and adviser to Gov. Sam Brownback, announced he would be running as a Republican candidate for Kansas state treasurer. Austin — who recently left his post with the conservative think tank Kansas Policy Institute — listed expanding choice, improving fiscal literacy in younger Kansans and limiting what he views as ineffective and wasteful government spending as among the priorities of his “conservative platform.” He will face-off in the primary against state Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican, who declared his intention to run for state treasurer last month. The winner of the Republican primary will look to unseat incumbent Lynn Rogers, a Democrat whom Gov. Laura Kelly appointed to fill the vacancy left by Republican Jake LaTurner after he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rogers’ appointment drew criticism from Republicans who felt appointing a member of a different party went against the will of Kansas voters.
Before joining the Kansas Policy Institute, which frequently lobbies at the statehouse, Austin served as a financial analyst at the Kansas Department of Revenue. He served as a chief economic adviser to Brownback when the former governor established tax cuts that were later repealed. Other Races – Kansas City Here’s an update to the candidate listings featured in our May 20 issue. Tyrone Garner, a retired Kansas City Police Department Deputy Chief, is running against current
Mayor David Alvey. Both of them gained a serious competitor with Chris Steineger’s entry into the race. Steineger, a former State Senator, comes from a powerful Wyandotte County political family. His father was a leader in the Kansas Senate and his uncle is a former mayor of Kansas City. Steinger, formally a Democrat, is now chair of the Wyandotte County Republicans. District 1 incumbent Commissioner Gayle Townsend did file for reelection. In addition to previously mentioned competitor Melvin Williams, owner of real estate company Presidential Flips, she picked up another opponent, Lisa Walker Yeager. Among several properties, Yeager is the owner of the building at 19th and Vine that once housed the historic Mardi Gras Jazz Club, which was operated by her family. Incumbent District 5 Commissioner Mike Kane has drawn some serious competition in LaTora “Torrie” Chinn, government compliance officer at the Kansas Entertainment and Speedway/Hollywood Casino. If that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Chinn assists with services at Thatcher Funeral Home, and for 12 years has served on the Contract Fairness Board for the Wyandotte County Unifie d Government. District 8 Commissioner Jane W. Philbrook, who is seeking a third term, has four competitors including Andrew Davis and Tscher Manck. Davis is a 25-year-old graduate student at the University of Kansas studying public administration and hopes as commissioner to bring more opportunities for youth, support for small businesses and remove criminal penalties for marijuana use. Manck, a certified clinical hemodialysis technician, ran unsuccessfully for Wyandotte County Register of Deeds in 2019. District 8 covers part of central Wyandotte County, including Kansas City, Kansas Community College, Coronado Middle School and Brenner Heights Creek. Citing what he says are excessively high rates, KS Sen. David Haley seems determined to win a seat on the Board of Public Utilities. After losing by just 37 votes in his bid to join the board two years ago, Haley is back. This time he’s one of five candidates vying for the At-large Position 2 seat occupied by Ryan Eidson, who is seeking his second term. Also among the candidates for this seat is Kimberly Weaver. She works as a community health & equity consultant at WyCo Mutual Aid. Also running for a seat on the BPU is Gwendolyn Bass. She’s vying for the BPU At-large Position 1 currently held by Mary Gonzales, who is running for a sixth term.
Three KCK Board of Education USD 500 seats, all at-large are open. So far, incumbents Maxine Drew and Wanda Brownlee Paige filed for a second term. Rachel Henderson, board treasurer for Rosedale Development Association and community representative for KC COVID Regional Fund is also running for a seat. She hopes to bring transparency and elevate parent voices. Also vying for one of the open seats is Angelynn Howell, owner of Anna’s BLD Bistro, in KCK. Other Races – Wichita There are three seats open on the Wichita City Council. District 1 Councilmember Brandon Johnson is running for his second and final term on the council.
He drew one competitor, Myron Ackerman, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau last year.
The other two seats – District 3 and District – drew a total of 13 candidates. The District 3 seat covering southeast Wichita is held by Jared Cerullo, who was appointed to fill the term of James Clendenin, who resigned
in December 2020 in the midst of a scandal and coverup surrounding a scathing video produced against then-mayoral-candidate Brandon Whipple. Cerullo has six competitors, many of them were among the original 15 candidates who filed to replace Clendenin. Incumbent District 6 City Councilmember Cindy Claycomb, who is seeking her second and final term, has five competitors. Included among them is Dereck Reynolds, founder of the non-profit Hug-a-Dad.
The Wichita Board of Education USD 259 has four seats up for election: Districts 1,2,5, and 6. All four incumbents are seeking reelection. With very few candidates filing, none of the races will have a primary. Ben Blankley, the incumbent in District 1, a district that had been held by an African-American for several decades, is seeking reelection.
Although we couldn’t find much out about his opponent, she does not appear to be Black. Mia Turner, who was selected tofill a vacant seat on the board earlier this year, is seeking reelection and has one competitor, Kathy Bond. While school board races are non-partisan, we did determine that Bond is a Republican precinct committeewoman.