WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each Wichita candidate facing a challenger in the November general election. Voters in east Wichita will decide the City Council District 2 race.
We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.
Graduate, Wichita North High School, attended Wichita State
Married to Gary, two adult sons, Steven and Stacy
Retired business owner, First Gear, Wichita’s running store 1988-2012, and owned MG Ventures from 1995-2021
Served on Goddard Planning Commission from 2005-2007, Elected Mayor of Goddard 5 times, 2007-2017.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Wichita issue deserves your immediate attention, and how do you plan to address it?
My focus for Wichita will be to work on continued Economic Development. Supporting existing businesses, growing and incubating new businesses, and attracting business from other locations. I believe this achieves a very important goal of keeping our young talent here, not losing them to another community to get a good paying job.
We also need to work to strengthen and support Public Safety, which includes Police and Fire. Both of these are understaffed, and I have ideas about how to work to change that.
Finally, homelessness and affordable housing need to be addressed. I have a plan for that as well.
How do you propose to grow the Wichita economy and create jobs?
As I did during my time in Goddard, I plan to work closely with the Economic Development staff, encouraging them to pursue companies that market research has identified to be a good fit for Wichita. Many times when staff approaches a company they may listen, but I have found that when an elected official reaches out, the company realizes the City is serious, and it usually prompts more serious conversation. Visit Wichita also has some wonderful marketing tools they utilize to try to entice conventions, and conferences, which could also be used for Eco/Devo. I also believe we need to utilize more of the Innovation Campus at WSU. Wichita is an entrepreneurial town. We need to build on that, it is one of our greatest strengths.
Describe your vision for Wichita’s future and how you plan to achieve it.
I want Wichita to be a place where it’s residents have ample opportunities to work, live and play. A community where residents feel safe and well protected. Where every Wichitan is able to have a roof over their heads, their own bathroom, and not have to worry about going hungry. It frustrates me when people complain that Wichita has nothing to “draw people” here, no mountains, beaches, etc. Our people are our greatest asset. We are talented, creative, hard working people in this town. The first thing that needs to change is our image of ourselves.
What should be done about violence in the city?
Because voters have been lead to believe in a need for smaller government, which really only works if your population is declining, budgets for public safety have been cut. This is true nationwide, not just Wichita. My approach would be to begin with education. Young people need to be taught that law enforcement and firefighting are important and valuable career paths. Next we need to ensure these departments hire bright individuals, train them well to handle a variety of different situations appropriately, and put policies in place to make certain that all members of the community are treated fairly and equitably by city staff, and that the staff themselves are treated fairly and equitably as well.
What should Wichita do to address homelessness and the need for affordable housing?
Project hope is an excellent plan for addressing the growing population who find themselves living on the streets of Wichita. It would utilize a multifaceted approach to creating an actual campus (location) where food service, mental and physical healthcare, and housing can be combined to meet the needs of that community. The City needs to encourage partnerships with builders/tradespeople/providers for the above referenced services to make it happen. I also believe we can re-purpose some existing structures that no longer suit the purposes they were originally build for, and turn them into affordable housing. I have seen this done with great success in other communities.
What should Wichita do about food deserts?
I would like to encourage local growers to establish “satellite” locations in these areas for a farmers market approach. If we could also encourage the school districts to allow students to participate in staffing these facilities for credit, it would achieve several important goals; it would bring food supply to these “deserts”, it would keep dollars in the local economy by purchasing from local growers, and it would provide needed work experience for our young people.
Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?
This is about the most challenging question you have asked. A budget for a growing, vibrant community has GOT to be a living document, able to change and modify as the community changes. So what needs to be spent in what department can and should change from time to time. However, as I have mentioned before, Public Safety has got to be a top priority, as people will not live where they do not feel safe. But they also have to be able to work to feed themselves and their families. And budget dollars have also got to go for amenities to enhance a quality of living; libraries, golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, public parks, etc. Balancing a municipal budget is a challenge, but I have done it before with much success.