WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each Wichita candidate facing a challenger in the August primary election. We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.
Lily’s heritage is Chinese, she was born in Guatemala, but she was made in Wichita. After arriving in Wichita as an 8-year-old immigrant who only spoke Spanish and Chinese, Lily has grown into a leader, life-long learner, and listener for our community.
She’s a 30-year Wichita resident, 20-year community volunteer and leader, and 12-year local television reporter for KWCH and KAKE. As a teenager and student at Wichita East High’s International Baccalaureate program, she also interned at KSN.
Lily attended Wichita State University, where she earned the distinction of Summa Cum Laude, graduating with two degrees in international business and integrated marketing communication. While serving as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Lily also earned a masters in journalism from the University of Hong Kong.
Lily has been recognized for her community service and leadership as the 2022 Rising Star in TV by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, 2020 Exceptional Young Leader by the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, 2015 Leader in Diversity by the Wichita Business Journal.
Lily is the proud daughter of two working class parents, a father who’s a cook in south Wichita and a mother who’s a hairstylist in west Wichita. She is not married and loves her [dog] daughter.
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What specific Wichita issue deserves your immediate attention, and how do you plan to address it?
My top priority is the health and safety of our community. With nearly 100 vacant police officer positions, we must ensure law enforcement, first responders, and city services are fully staffed so they can connect with the community and serve more effectively.
As mayor, I’ll restore the relationship between the mayor’s office and Wichita Police Department, bolster our public safety departments’ recruitment and retention efforts, and ensure they have the respect and resources necessary to keep Wichita families safe.
How do you propose to grow the Wichita economy and create jobs?
I want Wichita to be a safe and welcoming community that helps attract and grow businesses. Strengthening our economy starts with ensuring we’re supporting our existing small and large businesses, creating a future-ready workforce, and emphasizing high-paying jobs. Progress will require greater collaboration between government, industry, and education, and a supportive partnership with economic development initiatives such as the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wichita Partnership, Wichita Independent Business Association, as well as state government.
As mayor, I’ll serve as an ambassador for our city by cultivating relationships and promoting regional competitiveness that will attract new industry, investment, and people. We’ll get back to the basics, prioritize responsibly, and put Wichita in the best possible position to succeed.
Describe your vision for Wichita’s future and how you plan to achieve it.
I’m the political outsider who will bring a new energy and fresh perspective to city hall. I envision Wichita as a safe, trustworthy, and thriving community where people want to be and are proud to stay. It’s time to get back to the core functions of local government and put results over politics so we can meet the challenges of tomorrow and improve the lives of every Wichitan.
As mayor, I’ll focus on ensuring public safety, strengthening our economy, restoring trust in city hall, and building a united community. I’ll work with anyone who wants to improve our city, bring our community together, find common ground, and make Wichita proud.
What should be done about violence in the city?
We must collaborate with more stakeholders to support bottom-up solutions, such as engaging our youth, educational institutions, and faith-based organizations. Our community won’t tolerate violence which stems from a lack of respect and personal responsibility, so I believe in strong punishments for personal, property, and violent crime. We must return Wichita to a place that values all individuals and helps them navigate opportunities to realize their full potential so they may live a productive and fulfilling life.
What should Wichita do to address homelessness?
Homelessness is a matter of public safety, but the problem lacks leadership from city hall and continues to get worse. This is a challenging issue with no one-size-fits-all solution, but it must be a higher priority. Most homeless individuals suffer from serious mental illness, substance abuse, or both. We are a compassionate community with many available resources that should be harnessed and channeled to help those suffering connect with the help they need. Incentives should be aimed at those who want to improve their lives, not to perpetuate homelessness. At the same time, we should encourage more housing so there is more affordable housing.
While I’m encouraged by more recent collaboration between our public, private, and nonprofit sectors, we still lack the leadership necessary to achieve real results. I’m the type of leader who can facilitate greater collaboration and ensure we’re on a path to results.
What should Wichita do about food deserts?
The lack of healthy food options in our community should be alleviated by private business owners and developers. For these entrepreneurs to take that risk, they must first feel confident their efforts will be met with a safe and supportive community. As mayor, I’ll highlight and partner with marginalized neighborhoods to encourage investment in these communities.
Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?
My top priority is the health and safety of our community. We must get back to the basics and prioritize the core functions of local government: police, fire, water, and infrastructure. I’m opposed to tax increases on working families, so we must analyze current spending, prioritize, and identify opportunities for efficiency, partnership, and/or reallocation.
All 2023 Primary Candidate Profiles
Wichita Mayoral Candidates
- Jared Cerullo
- Shelia Davis ‘Rainman’
- Bryan Frye
- Anthony Gallardo
- Tom Kane
- Celeste Racette
- Julie Rose Stroud
- Brandon Whipple
- Lily Wu