Political analyst weighs in on the new Wichita City Council and what it could mean

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The votes are in and now official. The Wichita City Council will have two new faces in Maggie Ballard and Mike Hoheisel.

“So the challenge with a new city council, with the mayor, will be to work within the confines of the politics of the state to make change more likely at the margins,” said KSN political analyst Jeff Jarman. “Rather than dramatic public policy changes.”

Jarman says the new look council is interesting because votes may look different with new members. However, he also says dramatic change is not likely.

Jarman says an interesting takeaway is how local races that are traditionally non-partisan have become more political.

“City council and mayoral, it’s not a partisan race, but we understood there were partisan influences in it,” said Jarman. “But what we’ve seen over the years and what we will continue to see is the increasing influence of the party on those races.”

Both Ballard and Hoheisel said they did a lot of knocking on doors. Jarman says that helps offset the political party mindset for voters.

“The increasing role of the parties and the partisanship of those races doesn’t mean that they will determine the outcome of those races,” said Jarman. “I think what we’ve seen is candidates and issues matter in spite of the influence of party politics in those non-partisan races.”

Finally, Jarman says while the new city council members will shake things up, he also says the council will have to work with other entities to enact changes. That includes everything from Riverfront development to any local ordinances for things like marijuana use and punishment on the local level.

“So the challenge with a new city council with the mayor will be to work within the confines of the politics of the state to make change more likely at the margins,” said Jarman. “Rather than dramatic public policy changes.”

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