Responses below are from the candidates and have not been edited. All candidates for a race who chose to respond were asked the same questions.
Occupation: Council Member, City of Wichita, District 1
* Northeast Magnet High 2004
* Friends University – Business Administration (Incomplete)
* Wichita State University (Present)
Military Service – None
Marriage & Family: Spouse – Danielle Johnson, Children – Arin 2 – Aria 8 – Khairi 16
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Wichita issues deserve your immediate attention and how do you plan to address them?
Food Desert – I will continue seeking every possible opportunity to convene stakeholders and the private sector to find solutions. This is a complex issue that will require multiple approaches to bring more access to quality food to our community.
Quality of Life – Quality of life is more than just the awesome “to-do’s” of attraction hubs, it is also how one feels about their neighborhoods. I will continue supporting efforts to make Wichita more walkable and bikeable as well as our neighborhood aesthetic which includes parks, roads, and resources hubs like libraries or resource centers.
Transportation – I will continue to work with my colleagues and Transit Director, Mike Tann, on ways to expand and improve transit services for our city. Short term, I support adding a second shift to transit and building a plan to create grid systems throughout our city as hybrid spoke and hub/ grid system to shorten ride times and improve the experience.
What are your thoughts on the non-discrimination ordinance (NDO)?
I believe Wichita needed a Non-Discrimination Ordinance in place to address the very real instances of discrimination that do occur within our city limits and that is why I voted for it.
I am pleased by the amendments to the original ordinance that have made it stronger and relieved some of the burden on those who may not can afford mediation.
What is your vision for the east bank of the Arkansas River? What do you want to see happen with Century II and the old downtown library?
The conversation around the use of the Century II facility has been an ongoing one for about a decade with passionate arguments on all sides. I think the Wichita community, private sector, and other stakeholders should continue working toward a plan that encompasses as much of what our community wants for the riverfront as possible and then a public vote.
Improved public engagement is a necessity to ensure as many voices are heard as possible and then the plan should be placed on the ballot for our community to decide how we go forward.
Ultimately, I want to see what is best for our city for current and future generations.
What should Wichita do about food deserts?
I view the solution to food deserts as a complex one with several strategies. In my opinion we will need to rely on local entrepreneurs and others to address food insecurity in partnership with local government. The grocery stores we have lost in recent years are all run by individuals or companies outside of our city. Our local cultural markets have mostly stayed open to serve our community.
We also need to support organizations like Common Ground Growers and Producers, Inc that deliver food to people directly or provide delivery market locations that citizens can walk to or catch a much shorter bus ride to.
In addition to the aforementioned, we also need to support more community gardens and/or year round hydroponic gardening that can supply our community at an affordable rate.
These options working together for the betterment of our community could provide a decent start on solving these issues. This is the work I am currently a part of and will continue if re-elected.
What should be done about violence in the city?
It is going to take each of us working together to reduce violence in our community and especially with our youngest Wichitans. In regard to our young people, we need to listen to them and learn from the experiences they are having day in and day out and work WITH them to address what is going on. As for our adults, we need to continue to look at offering and increasing supportive services to assist with the needs many are facing.
Our police department is working to both hold those who commit crimes accountable but also seek to support prevention efforts as much as possible.
How should Wichita address mental health issues and addiction in our community?
We need to continue working with our County Commission on efforts to address mental and behavioral health issues. Our community clinics are working as hard as they can to address the needs of our community and Wichita State University now has free counseling opportunities provided to the community.
These are great steps to take and I believe if this kind of collaboration continues we will begin to see some impacts as it becomes more normalized to help those in need.
How can the city help to grow businesses and create jobs?
Thus far we have done a lot and we need to build upon the steps we have taken. Over my term in office we have offered scholarships to WSU Tech for those who were underemployed or unemployed to change careers and improve social status. We have created a revolving loan program called PROPEL to support small loans up to $15,000 with a fixed interest rate and payable over thirty six months.
During my first year in office we were able to work with Commerce Bank and Create Campaign to establish Founders’ Grove, which is an entrepreneurial hub in our community. Going forward we have to continue working with our community and the private sector to keep laying the foundation for opportunity to achieve ones American dream in our city.
Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?
Our budget for the city is pretty tight when it comes to our departments. I would love to see more funding to MABCD and more funding for a solid transit plan to expand and improve service to work to address some immediate short and long term issues.