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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each Wichita candidate facing a challenger in the November general election. Voters in northwest Wichita will decide the City Council District 5 race.

We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.

Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor

Biographical Information:

I currently work at Spirit Aerosystems as an IBEW electrician. I am also the IBEW Spirit Unit Chairman and Chief Steward.

I successfully completed a five year apprenticeship through the IBEW in 2001, and have since taken several continuing education courses.

I am married to Amy Taylor and we have two children, Samantha (28) and Ben (19).  

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

What specific Wichita issue deserves your immediate attention, and how do you plan to address it?

Our City government needs to work for all the people in Wichita, not just the loudest or most well-connected. As a long time Wichitan, I’ve noticed that the same people who hate everything tend to dominate the conversation. However, if we want to grow and be a City my kids want to live in, we need to listen to that next generation. 
Next, if we are going to continue to grow, we have to build more housing. Right now, my kids and their friends struggle to find affordable places to live. We must increase our housing supply, but that won’t happen if we let builders and real estate agents call the shots. When housing costs keep going up, the people who build and sell houses win while those of us buying houses lose. When I’m elected, I will make sure people in Wichita have a safe and affordable place to live.

How do you propose to grow the Wichita economy and create jobs?

I believe that the City should work to bring new businesses and encourage current residents to start new businesses in Wichita.  I also believe that incentives can be used to accomplish this goal.

When these incentives are used, the contracts need to be strong and written to protect the taxpayers of the City. I have experience negotiating contracts, and words matter. As a City, we can’t assume anything and we need to make sure that every promise that is made to the taxpayer is written down. When the owners of the baseball team described the original baseball development deal, it included many promises that we have learned weren’t actually in the contract. When I’m elected, contracts will be strongly worded and clear about the consequences for broken promises. Recently, the city council has been willing to hold bad actors accountable, like Genesis with the Ice Center, and that strong response must continue to protect taxpayers.

Describe your vision for Wichita’s future and how you plan to achieve it.

My vision for Wichita is one that works for all people of Wichita, not just some.

I want to see a Wichita where college graduates want and are proud to stay and work in Wichita.

I want to see a Wichita where housing is abundant and affordable for everyone.

What should be done about violence in the city?

I believe we need to modernize the Wichita Police Department by:

a.      Expand Mental health (more social workers) This allows police to focus on the community more and spend less time dealing with mental health issues. It also allows the social workers, who have more training in the field, to help with these issues.

b.      Make changes to allow police to be more of community police.  Meaning that police become more part of the community instead of an adversary to the community.

c.       Build trust between the communities and police.

d.     More training for police. Better training for police gives them the skills to build trust and be better police

What should Wichita do to address homelessness and the need for affordable housing?

For too many years, the discussion about housing has been dominated by the local builders and the elected officials they support. When Wichita is short 44,000 housing units, we need to do whatever we can to build housing and remodel our current housing stock. We should incentivize competition and encourage any housing investment in Wichita, even if it’s not the usual players. It’s also important to find ways to help homeowners fix up homes that currently exist. Instead of tearing down old houses, I want to look at ways we can revitalize those homes and get them back on the market.

What should Wichita do about food deserts?

If elected, I would like to work with grocery stores in the area to try to see what can be done to open up locations that fall into the category of a food desert. Even if it isn’t a big box store, maybe a smaller grocery store would work for residents and still be profitable. Residents of Wichita need to be able to get nutritious groceries and necessities without having to travel way out of their community to get it.

Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?

I would have to find out exactly how much the City spends on the different departments in order to make a determination as to which departments need more funding.

I do know that the Wichita Fire Department is deficient in several areas according to a report done in 2021. I would like to see the full report and make an assessment then. I also know that Wichita is growing at a fast pace, and these departments will need to grow as well, in order to keep up.