Jared Cerullo – Candidate for Wichita City Council – District 3

Candidates

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.

Biographical Information:

Wichita City Council members selected Jared Cerullo to fill the District 3 City Council seat at the March 16 Council meeting. Jared will be the interim District 3 Council Member until the term expires on January 10, 2022. The primary election will be held on August 3 to narrow down the 7 candidates in the field to the top two. The election to fill the seat for a full four-year term will be part of the November 2, 2021 City election.

Jared Cerullo is a born and bred Wichitan. Not only that, but a SOUTH Wichitan. Since the day his mother brought him home from Wesley Medical Center, Jared has lived, worked and played in Wichita. Jared grew up in the area of 55th Street South and Broadway and attended Haysville schools from kindergarten until he graduated from Campus High School in 1992.

Jared attended Wichita State University for a short stint before going to work at KFDI radio in 1993. He worked in the news department at KFDI for 14 years, reporting the news daily, chasing storms, reporting on Wichita traffic conditions, and anchoring newscasts. If you grew up listening to KFDI when the weather turned bad, you likely heard Jared anchoring or reporting on the severe weather conditions.

After starting as a weekend overnight reporter while he was still a teenager, Jared worked his way up to eventually becoming the assignment manager at KFDI. In 2007, Jared accepted an offer to jump into the television market and went to work at KAKE TV, the ABC affiliate in Wichita. Jared started on the assignment desk and worked his way up to reporting for the evening newscasts and anchoring on the weekends. In 2013, Jared became self-employed and currently works as a freelancer for radio news stations all over the country… working right from his home in South Wichita.

Because of Jared’s more than two decades of experience as a broadcast journalist, a number of people encouraged him to run for public office. His job for many years has been to ask lots of questions on matters in order to gain as much knowledge and expertise as possible within a very short amount of time.

In March, 2021, Jared was chosen by a majority of city council members to fill an unexpired term that is scheduled to end in January, 2022. His website is https://jared4wichita.com/.

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

Jared4Wichita.com

What specific Wichita issues deserve your immediate attention and how do you plan to address them?

District 3 has an enormous blight problem in many neighborhoods. We must address these issues from the ground up, involving residents and neighbors… getting them involved in helping each other out. Many people may not realize that as much as 40% of the people who live in D3 do not own their homes. They rent. We must involve and engage landlords who do not understand the importance of making sure their tenants are not contributing to the blight.

Clapp Park is of utmost importance. We have a huge opportunity over the next few years to begin building a top-notch park amenity that the entire city will be proud of. I will make sure that the city follows through with the Clapp Park Master Plan and finds the money in the CIP budget to fund the project from start to finish. I also know many of the movers and shakers in Wichita whom I want to bring to the table about possibly donating private dollars to the Clapp Park Project.

The food desert issue is of great concern. The city just lost the last Sav-A-Lot grocery store in July. The first two stores to close were both in D3. I am not happy that this company received tax incentives to come to Wichita about ten years ago, but now that the handouts dried up, they came up with excuses about why they could not continue in business.

What are your thoughts on the non-discrimination ordinance (NDO)?

The city absolutely should pass a non-discrimination ordinance and I am fully supportive of such an ordinance. The council is in the process of bringing people and groups who have concerns to the table to find out what their solutions are. The council has heard plenty of complaints, but nobody has offered any solutions or ways to improve the ordinance… yet.

Sexual orientation and gender identity will not be removed from the proposed ordinance. There are 20 other cities in Kansas that have passed similar NDO’s that include sexual orientation and gender identity. There have been no lawsuits and very few complaints.

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?

If there are any vast changes to the future of Century II, the public must have their say. I will bind myself to the results of a public election, if one is ever held. Personally, I believe we should save Century II and find a use for it. The former downtown library is a gem of a building that was inspired by the artistry and techniques of Frank Lloyd Wright. I believe our city would be the laughingstock of the world if we were to tear down a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired building.

As for the East Bank of the Arkansas River, I am encouraged by the Penumbra plan. I agree with them. We should think big. I am encouraged by their claims that they will not ask for any state, local or federal tax subsidies. HOWEVER… they must tell us where their money is coming from. There are many public buildings involved. The city cannot just hand over the keys and let them do what they want. I think they should start with one project at a time and gain public trust and confidence with their successes.

What should Wichita do about food deserts?

The Clapp Park Master Plan has a wonderful Farmers Market concept in it. I believe that can be a first step toward allowing people to grow and sell their own fruits and vegetables. We can also do more to support community gardens throughout the city. Public transportation options are slim to none for folks who don’t have their own car. That becomes a huge problem for the low-income, elderly and disabled population who don’t have a grocery store within 4-5 miles of their home. I will look into options for rerouting city bus lines that could go directly between existing grocery stores and neighborhoods. We are also currently looking into a public/private partnership on-demand system similar to Uber/Lyft that could do grocery delivery.

What should be done about violence in the city?

Unfortunately, the city of Wichita has seen an increase in gun violence in the past few years. Our police chief, Gordon Ramsay, and his support team, have done an outstanding job of engaging the community. A few years ago, the city started the Sav-A-Casing program, which aims to provide a quick and easy way to track down stolen firearms. Shell casings are not provided to the police department until after a gun is stolen. I would encourage gun owners to check out the program at the following link:

Operation Save-A-Casing

Gun violence is often discussed as a single problem, but it can really be broken down into a few categories: Inner-city violence, suicides, and domestic violence. Since the pandemic, there has been a large increase in suicides and domestic violence cases. Social cohesion is the best way forward. We must figure out a way to get our neighbors looking after and caring for each other. The city Police Department could possibly sponsors more local events like National Night Out.

How should Wichita address mental health issues and addiction in our community?

The city of Wichita does not have a health department. Sedgwick County does. Sedgwick County also has COMCARE, which has many programs dealing with mental health and addiction issues. The city of Wichita does not currently have the capability to address these issues. If the city were to delve into mental health and addiction issues, it would require the creation of a department and the hiring of many positions. That would require a significant amount of additional funding. How would that be paid for? What other city services would need to be cut in order to fund such a department? Would this require a tax increase? If so, that would be something to be decided on by the people.

How can the city help to grow businesses and create jobs?

As a city, we must come up with new ways to attract and retain young professionals. It only takes a visit to any Wichita high school to quickly find out that many young people do not see their future in Wichita. This is a huge problem. Young people want to know that their community is a welcoming and inviting one. I believe passing a non-discrimination ordinance will go a long way in getting that message across.

Additionally, the proper role of city government is to provide a supportive environment for growth. We have done that in one way by providing tax abatements and incentives for the WSU Tech Culinary Arts and Osteopathic Medicine campus downtown. This is going to be a vibrant campus in four old buildings, including the former Henry’s Department Store, which has been vacant for 34 years. People come to Wichita for the jobs, but they’re going to stay because of the quality of life. The city must make sure it provides good parks and rec programming, amenities, etc. Partnerships with the Greater Wichita Partnership and the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce provide great ways to build on ideas for diversifying our economy so we can attract more industry.

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

I do believe we have gotten off track with overall spending for the fire department. Significant coverage gaps have opened up, especially for the entire southern part of the city. Over the next year, I will be working closely with Chief Snow and the union to figure out where we can make improvements in placement of stations and fire personnel. Additionally, I will work hard to determine if the Fire Department’s budget needs to be re-assessed for additional funding.

One of my very first votes on the council was to approve a grant application for funding to pay for 12 additional firefighters. The goal of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant is to enhance local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. The city has been awarded a SAFER grant in the past, which paid for 12 additional firefighter positions that have now been absorbed into the fire department’s operating budget.

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