With the filing deadlines past and the August 1 primaries looming, its time to start paying attention to and learning about candidates running for office in Wichita. There are seats up for contention on the Wichita School board, three seats open on the Wichita City Council, and the mayor’s seat is also being vied for.
Races in which more than three candidates are filed will compete in the Aug. 1 primary. These include the mayor’s race, City Council District 4 and USD 259’s at-large seat. The top to vote recipients in the primary advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
The Mayor’s Race
Eight candidates filed to challenge incumbent Mayor, Brandon Whipple, who is seeking reelection.
The mayor is elected citywide, which means everyone in the city limits gets to vote in this race and serves a four-year term. The mayor can serve two terms and if reelected this would be Whipple’s second and final term.
The mayor is considered the head of the City Council and like the six members of the City Council has one vote on issues that come before that body. The mayor presides over the city council meetings where city policy is set. The mayor and the council appoint the city manager who is responsible for the city’s day-to-day operations and implementation of the policies approved by the council.
The mayor’s race is considered non-partisan, which means the candidates do not run by political parties. Still, the policies and positions supported by the candidates often reflect their political leanings – conservative versus liberal.
In addition to incumbent Mayor Whipple, these are the candidates running for mayor.
Jared Cerullo, was appointed to serve a vacated term on the City Council in March 2021. Although he did run to maintain the position, he lost to incumbent Mike Hoheisel in the November 2021 election. Cerrullo, who is the announcer for the Wichita Wings soccer team, sparred openly with Whipple during his short term on the council.
Shelia M. Davis is a student at Butler Community College
Bryan Frye is the current Wichita District 5 representative, but due to term limits cannot seek reelection to that position. He’s known as the conservative voice on the council.
Anthony Gallardo, announced his endorsement of Lillie Wu and is no longer actively seeking election.
Tom Kane, a small business owner, identifies addressing mental health awareness and homelessness and enhancing the Wichita Police Department among his priorities.
Celeste Racette, spent 25 years in the banking industry including working as a bank examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She has a degree in accounting from the University of Kansas. Although she serves on the Wichita Area Sister Cities Board, her visibility in the city rose when she founded the organization Save Century II, where she actively advocates for saving the historic structure, instead of tearing it down.
Julie Rose Stroud is an environmental health safety and quality manager at Evonik, a chemical plant in Haysville. A published poet, she’s also produces music, that seems to be mostly rap, likely of her own poetry. She attended Wichita State University.
Lily Wu, who many people know as a local television reporter, has thrown her hat into the ring. Wu worked at KAKE, before switching to KWCH in 2020. She stepped down from that position before announcing her run for mayor. She proudly speaks about the diversity of her supporters and her desire to bring Wichita together around a common interest, “our love for Wichita.” Wu is a WSU graduate and previously was assigned to report on the Wichita Police Department.
Another 10 candidates filed to run for the three of six City Council seats up for election this year.
The Wichita City Council has six members representing different parts of the city. This year City Council Districts 2, 4, and 5 are up for election. Only residents of each district vote on that district’s representative.
The only incumbent running is Becky Tuttle in District 2. Jeff Blubaugh of District 4 is finishing his second term and unable to run. Bryan Frye of District 5 is running for mayor.
The council is responsible for setting policy for city government, reviewing and approving the city’s budget, repealing or enacting city ordinances, levying taxes and appointing members to advisory boards and task forces. Council members are elected to four-year terms and may only serve for two terms.
City Council elections are nonpartisan. In races where more than three candidates are running, those candidates will compete in the Aug. 1 primary to narrow the field to two. Because of the number of candidates and space we’re only covering the one race with a primary.
Jeff Blubaugh, the current District 4 representative can’t seek reelection due to term limitations. This district covers southwest Wichita, predominantly south of Maple and west of Seneca.
Bentley Blubaugh is the nephew of Jeff. He works for his parents at their donut shop in Goddard, but has been involved in politics. He worked on Kris Kobach’s 2018 bid for governor. He took a step away from politics for a while, but told the Eagle, his leanings are more left than before.
Dalton Glasscock is the former president of the Sedgwick County Republican Party. He supports fully funding emergency responders (police and fire,) cutting red tape for businesses, and investing in our neighborhoods. He is a graduate of Wichita State and has a Masters from Washington University. — Support our emergency services
Alan R. Oliver is a retired car salesman. He listed working on the city’s streets and infrastructure as a priority.
Judy Pierce, president of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation is the only registered Democrat in this nonpartisan race. She’s served 20 years at the helm of the labor federation, a non-profit labor membership organization devoted to supporting, advancing and advocating for the working people. The organization brings together 30 unions. While firefighters are part of the organization, police officers are not.
The Wichita school board has seven members – six representing different parts of the city and one at-large member. This year Districts 3 and 4 and the at-large seat are up for election.
Due to a change approved by voters in November, only residents of a district may vote on that district’s representative. The at-large position is elected citywide. School board members serve four-year terms. There are no limits on how many terms they may serve.
The only incumbent running is Stan Reeser in District 4. Two moderate members of the board are retiring, Ernestine Kreheibel and Sheril Logan. With the cultural balance of the board balanced at four moderates and three conservatives, with these two moderates leaving, the overall balance and culture of the board is at stake with this election.
In races where more than three candidates are running, those candidates will compete in the Aug. 1, 2023 Wichita primary to narrow the field to two. Because of the number of candidates and space we’re only covering the one race with a primary
Jacob A. Bakk, a retired aircraft mechanic, is running on a platform of instilling parents rights and bringing biblical principles to classrooms.
Jesse Borosky, Wichita State doctoral student in clinical psychology says he’s concerned about the mental health issues of students, better pay and classroom support for teachers and renewable energy resources for schools.
Brent Davis, educational services business owner, ran for office in 2021 as part of the four person Republican-backed slate. He was the only one of the three that didn’t win, which helped maintain the moderate balance on the seven member board.
Melody McCray-Miller, former Kansas state representative and Sedgwick County commissioner, is endorsed for the seat by Sheril Logan, the current seat holder. McCray-Miller teaches government at Wichita State University but previously taught at Mayberry Middle School and Southeast High School. She has been out of politics since 2013, but said she felt a tug to run to help students. She is the only African American running for any position this year in Wichita.
Harlan Bascombe, no information was available.