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.
President/CEO, Kansas Nonprofit Chamber. Owner, The Slumber Party Place.
Degrees include: MBA, Emphasis International Business, Newman University; BA, Integrated Marketing Communication, Wichita State University; Associates Degree, Mass Communications, Radio/TV, Butler Community College
Community Involvement includes: Wichita Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Wichita City Council District 3 Advisory Board, Community Investment Plan Committee, South Central Neighborhood Plan Committee, Delano District Plan Committee, Clapp Transformation Committee, Kansas Volunteer Commission, Newman University National Alumni Association Board, Empower Evergreen Board, Neighbors Indeed Board, Kansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children Board, Safe Streets Coalition, Wichita Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention, Sedgwick County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coaltion, Covid 19 Community Response Task Force, Kansas Hispanic Eduacation and Development Foundation Committee, SCORE Wichita, and Southside Business Association.
Previous runs for elected office include: Sedgwick County Commission District 2 (2020), Applied for appointment to City Council District 3 vacated seat, Republican Precinct 316 Committeewoman (currently serving in this role).
Married to Mark Miles for 30 years. Six grown children, Kaci, Kyle, Kristen, Kerah, Blake, Derek, ages 34 – 41. Sixteen grandkids, ages 10 months to 21.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Wichita issues deserve your immediate attention and how do you plan to address them?
I think some of the most immediate issues are economic recovery and getting people back to work. The labor shortage is having a huge impact on our businesses being able to operate effectively. I’m serving on the Covid-19 Community Response Task Force with other business leaders including the Workforce Alliance and we are working on how to address this issue.
So often big development in Wichita happens east or west.. We need not only business development but housing development in South Wichita and especially in the Broadway corridor. I want to bring people together in District 3, including businesses, to identify priorities, strategies, and where we should begin with transforming the southside of Wichita. I believe it will also take the engagement of residents that live in District 3 and want to see changes as well as developing some pride in the southside. Making changes is an adaptive challenge and certainly won’t happen easily but I have seen similar areas transformed in other cities and I believe we can do the same in District 3.
We have to continue to work on the issue of providing affordable accessible mental health and substance abuse services. Lack of adequate services and the increased use of drugs such as meth, are contributing to an increase in crime, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness, child abuse and death. The Sedgwick County jail has become an overcrowded holding facility for the mentally ill and those with addiction issues. Law enforcement officers are being asked to function as social workers as well. I have been serving on the Sedgwick County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition which is working to bring organizations together to work on these issues and develop a better continuum of care. I believe we need a model similar to the Haven of Hope model in SanAntonio, Texas, that will provide wrap-around services. I have also been bringing nonprofits together to discuss how they can better collaborate in addressing the issues we have and make more of an impact. I also appreciate Jeff Lange’s involvement in potentially bringing such a facility to the southside.
What should be done about the non-discrimination ordinance (NDO)?
While I have been supportive of developing a NDO, and I don’t believe in discrimination, I have not been supportive of the first two written ordinances simply because I don’t believe either is effective. I, as many others, are unclear about several things related to the NDO and I have not received clear answers to the questions I have asked due to the uncertainty of how this ordinance would impact certain things. One concern that was brought up has to do with the costs involved, whether for a mediator or an attorney, for those who either file a complaint or have a complaint filed against them. These costs must be split and can’t be recouped from the losing party. For those who can’t afford these costs, they may just consider dropping their complaint because they simply can’t afford to move forward with it. I believe some people perceive that this will help to end all discrimination but there are so many other classes that aren’t protected by this NDO and yet experince discrimination, i.e., the homeless, those who live in poverty, those who were prior inmates or are in recovery from addiction, etc. In the work I do, I see and hear of discrimination almost every day.
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?
My vision of the actual bank of the river is to keep it as green space. As far as development along the river, I would like to see us repurpose Century II and the downtown library which I believe would make fantastic event space. I would also like to see us create a new state of the art performing art center and I would like to see the Gander Mountain become a market similar to Boston Market that houses food and craft vendors and provides shopping for those who are visitors or live downtown. I do know a lot of money has been put into several plans over the years, none of which have been implemented.
What should Wichita do about food deserts?
This is an issue that communities across the country have been trying to solve for more than 40 years. I have spent time researching what other cities around the country have done to successfully address food deserts and have not found any models for resolution. As an entrepreneur myself, I don’t believe that we will find an investor that is willing to put in grocery stores and keep the stores in business if they are operating at a loss nor do I believe we can expect an investor to do so. I believe we have to come up with creative solutions to give people access to fresh food that may not include an actual brick and mortar store. We may need to figure out how food pickup or delivery can be made available to more people. Or how we can improve our transportation system to move people back and forth to grocery stores.
What should be done about violence in the city?
We need to address the issue with lack of affordable and accessible mental health and substance abuse services that I believe impacts the increasing crime and violence in our city. Through my involvement with the Wichita Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention over the past ten years, I have had an opportunity to really look into ACES or Adverse Childhood Experiences and the impact on our communities of a lot of children having high ACE scores. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/index.html I believe we are now seeing the impact of this in our communities. Through the Kansas Nonprofit Chamber, and at the suggestion of a friend, we will be working towards bringing together nonprofit organizations and others in the community to have a discussion about how we can work together to address this issue. I can assure you that this is another adaptive challenge that we aren’t going to easily find solutions for nor is one more nonprofit that is trying to address the issues with and mentor youth, going to fix this issue. We have great people in the community that commit their lives to this work and a lot of people that say we need more mentors, but the organizations that are doing the work don’t have enough resources, time, money, or mentors to meet the growing demand for services.
How should Wichita address mental health issues and addiction in our community?
As I mentioned in question 1, I have been serving on the Sedgwick County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition which is working to bring organizations together to work on these issues and develop a better continuum of care. Currently many of those nonprofits are working to also get information in a database called IRIS, that can help to facilitate working together. This issue isn’t just the providers’ issue, or just an issue for those who suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues, it is a community issue that needs more involvement by the overall community.
I believe we need a model similar to the Haven of Hope model in SanAntonio, Texas, that will provide wrap-around services. I have also been bringing nonprofits together to discuss how they can better collaborate in addressing the issues we have and make more of an impact. I also appreciate Jeff Lange’s involvement in potentially bringing such a facility to the southside.
How can the city help to grow businesses and create jobs?
Interestingly enough in Wichita there are so many programs to help people start and grow businesses in an effort to create jobs including: SBA, SBDC, Network Kansas, SCORE, Center for Entrepreneurship, WSU Ventures, Kansas Global Trade Services, Start-Up Wichita, One Million Cups, MakeICT, Groover Labs, Wichita Technology Corporation, DEVIct, Nxtus, Flagship Kansas, Create Campaign, MatchStick Alliance, and GoCreate, to name a few. I’m not sure how these organizations all work together but I do think we should expect collaboration because together we are always stronger. For several years I have participated in the Wichita Chamber’s City to City trips and one of the things that I was most impressed with on one of our trips was how Boise, Idaho had been a sleepy little town that decided to focus on training students for tech jobs. Boise didn’t have many tech jobs, but because they built a big workforce of individuals with tech skills, big tech companies moved to Boise because the workforce was there and the economy exploded. I think we have to look at what our niche should be in diversifying our jobs and workforce.
Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?
The city is currently working on budget and conducting budget presentations and I believe we should always allocate funding according to the prioritized needs for our city. When helping to develop the 20-year Community Investment Plan, we heard a lot of feedback about what were top priorities for residents in the city. Public safety is priority one, so I would want to assure that it is adequately funded and while we have done a lot of catching up with funding police, we have a lot of catching up to do with funding fire and EMS. Transit is critical to our community and I believe we need to provide more funding to address our transit system. We are working to catch up on many years of deferred maintenance on our streets including bridges and I believe we have to continue to fund those at the current level. I would like to figure out how we develop more in our parks system with public private partnerships as well. Every year when I sit though budget presentations I am highly aware of the challenges that the city faces on budgeting when there is a shortfall but I think we need to continue to assess what should be our top priorities.