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.
Martin Garcia, 39 years old, Divorced, with no children. Commander of VFW 112.
Born and raised on the Northside of Wichita. My father is from Mexico. My mothers family emigrated to the U.S. after the Mexican Revolution. As a boy I attended Woodland Elementary, Marshall M.S. and Wichita High School North. While in my 20’s I served as an assistant funeral director, burying family and friends at Cochran Mortuary. At 26 I felt compelled to join the U.S. Army. As a soldier, I attained the rank of Sergeant and fought with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan. I have led a life of service. Now I want to serve our community as your next Councilman.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Wichita issues deserve your immediate attention and how do you plan to address them?
Transparency in local government can only be attained if our council persons are salaried full time employees of the city. This will allocate enough time for the council person to coordinate and attend more town halls and engage voters Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These hallmarks of freedom from oppression, mean the world to me. As a Latino man in the United States, I feel no one person is truly free in our country till all have true power and equality, to live a life of domestic tranquility. No one ordinance or proposed legislation can protect us from bigotry and hate. Safety comes from community consensus. A cultural shift that takes years to attain, through dialogue and hard work.
“Free Kansas” is my home. We must create a culture within our city and state to ensure all of us share the same freedoms. Regardless of orientation, color or religion. In summation, we must vote in record numbers, to be the agents of change.
As this is a nonpartisan seat, our main goal should be to increase voter turnout. Engaged voters means leaders will be held accountable for their actions.
What should be done about the non-discrimination ordinance (NDO)?
You can’t change what is in another human being’s heart. No single ordinance can create or guarantee equality and justice for our marginalized communities within Wichita. I support the LGBTQ ordinance. Yet as a latino in America. I’m more afraid of my cisgender cousin being attacked for being latino in this city. Rather than the fact that he is a proud gay man. I’d like to see the city council protect all marginalized communities within Wichita with a blanket ordinance. LGBTQ, Women, Veterans, etc.
Voting is the only way you and I can protect those we love…
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?
As I have spoken to family and friends and neighbors across District 6 , an overwhelming consensus would like to see Century II and the library remain intact, albeit with renovations. Many performers, patrons and volunteers of the symphony orchestra and theatre productions have expressed their dissatisfaction with the condition of the backstage/basement. Years of neglect to infrastructure and not retrofitting Century II’s digital and telecom systems, left the facility unable to accommodate the needs of modern conferences and expos. There must be a cost analysis done to estimate how much it will cost to update Century II’s facilities and repurpose our old library. Especially before we commit to erecting a new convention/expo hall. In my humble opinion, Century II as a cultural landmark is what separates our city from all the other prairie towns in middle america.
What should Wichita do about food deserts?
Food deserts are located in socio economically depressed neighborhoods. As property values decline in Districts 1,3 and 6, most chain supermarkets will not see any economic incentive to establish a market in low income neighborhoods. Our chain markets, Dillons, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. can donate or sell overstock dry goods and B-Grade produce to a locally owned neighborhood market. With proper financial backing utilizing PROPEL within District 1, we can replace the Sav A Lot recently closed at 13th and Grove. We can use the proposed local market located at 13th and Grove as proving grounds for this project. To determine if this is a sustainable solution to eliminating food deserts. All Wichitan’s should have access to affordable, healthy food options.
What should be done about violence in the city?
It takes a village to raise a child. With divorce , single parent homes and flat wages on the rise, children are left unattended, as parents work two jobs to make ends meet. After school programs, youth city league sports and recreation centers need to be invested in. We as adults across Wichita need to reach out to children and single parents and ask how we can help. What programming we can create to ease financial hardships. Domestic Violence demands that we produce more battered women’s shelters and allow these individuals to have access to mental health treatment.
How should Wichita address mental health issues and addiction in our community?
As an employee of Humankind Ministries this past winter, I worked as a house manager. My duties were to maintain peace and give our clients a place to sleep for the night. Comcare unfortunately is understaffed and would often send the volatile mentally ill and intoxicated patients to HK Ministries winter shelter. A “pass the buck” mentality has taken hold amongst local organizations helping the homeless, addicted and mentally ill. The need for rehabilitation and mental healthcare facilities is dire. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, funds our city will be receiving can be used to create positions and salaries to expand the services provided by HK Ministries, Comcare and similar nonprofits.
How can the city help to grow businesses and create jobs?
We can no longer depend on manufacturing parts for aircraft as the primary industry keeping our cities heart beating. We must diversify our economy by courting manufacturing companies looking to relocate and commit to luring logistics, e-currency and companies looking to aid workers retraining to work in a new industry. Wichita has some of the most talented skilled workers in the nation. They deserve leadership that will provide them with job opportunities with salaries, that will allow their families to thrive rather than merely survive.
Would you change how much the city spends on its different departments (police, fire, parks, transit, etc.)? If so, how?
Privatization is the first step to making local government less accountable to its constituents. In regards to the police, the WPD/City can cease to purchase uparmored surplus military vehicles. $500,000 to $250,000 of taxpayers money, misallocated. How many additional social workers and mental health clinicians could we have hired to aid officers with calls involving mental divergence and domestic violence?
Whether it is Parks and Recreations or Social Services, privatization has been proven to be less efficient and allows for the city to dole out contracts for subpar work. While the city is able to use the private entity as a scapegoat. As our city attempts to save money by privatizing public works, which in theory should free up capital to pay down on our cities debt. Spurring on low interest rates and investment. We never see these tax dollars trickle down or invested in the communities that need them most. No, Privatization.