Category Archives: Council Elections

Election turnout grows to. . .7.8 percent

Does a voter turnout of 7.8 percent sound better than 7.7 percent? Probably not.

Nonetheless, the turnout for Tuesday’s primary election in Wichita increased ever so slightly Friday when 75 provisional ballots were certified and counted toward the total.

The official numbers:  Of the 201,2346 registered voters in Wichita, 15,597 voted. That comes to 7.75 percent. Rounded up it’s 7.8 percent,   Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale confirmed.

Thirteen of the 88 provisional ballots didn’t count for various reasons, including some who voted in the wrong precinct. Provisional ballots are cast at the polls on Election Day when questions arise about a voter’s eligibility.

The provisional ballots did not alter the outcome of any of the races, including in the one for City Council District 2. Pete Meitzner still won the second spot to advance to the April 5 general election with 8 votes more than Steve Harris. Charlie Stevens won the primary by 130 votes.

Advance voting in the primary accounted for 24.4 percent of the ballots, or about 3,800 ballots.

Sedgwick County checkbook open for your eyes

Want to peek into Sedgwick County’s checkbook? Now you can.

Chief financial officer Chris Chronis this morning unveiled a new feature of the county’s Web site,, that will allow anyone to see what money is coming in and going out. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn had asked for the financial data to be made readily public, explaining he had been frustrated as a citizen when seeking financial information from government agencies.

The checkbook also will show payments to vendors.

“This is just one more step to take the mystery out of government,” commissioner Tim Norton said.

The checkbook will go live today on the home page of the Web site.

Abortion bill on its way to the governor

TOPEKA – A proposal that will require women be allowed to see ultrasounds or hear a fetal heart beat before receiving an abortion is on its way to the governor’s desk.

On Tuesday, the Senate pasted Senate Bill 238 on veto proof margin of 32-6. The bill applies to all abortions.

“It gives her full information on the reality and status of her pregnancy and of her unborn child so she can make the best possible decision voluntarily and through informed consent,” said Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee who supported the bill.

In addition to allowing women to see images of an unborn child, the measure would also require all sites providing abortions to post a sign reading:

“Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of their relationship to you, to force you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened physical abuse or violence. You have the right to change your mind at any time prior to the actual abortion and request that the abortion procedure cease.”

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.

District 6 race about to heat up

City elections are five months away, but already it appears District 6 will have two fairly well-known candidates vying to fill Sharon Fearey’s position, which she will leave because of term limits.

Bob Aldrich plans to announce his candidacy next week. Aldrich has played roles as vice president of the Orchard Park Neighborhood Association, precinct committeeman, park board member and Wichita Pachyderm president. He came in third place (by six votes) in the 2005 primary for District 6, then quickly pitched support to Richard Lopez, who ended up losing to Fearey, who got 57 percent of the turnout. Read More »

What’s the Council up to next? Lots of ceremony

Here’s what Tuesday’s City Council meeting looks like: Pray, Pledge of Allegiance and then ceremony (swear in the new mayor), ceremony (swear in a new council member), ceremony (tribute to Bob Martz). Oh, and once the new Council lineup is in place, they’ll dive into several issues.

Here are the hottest items:

  • Pick a new vice-mayor to replace Paul Gray, who is finishing his one-year term. (See procedure here.)
  • Vote to sign an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to do a massive, $4.5 million flood protection project on the Cowskin Creek that will essentially cut a 300-foot wide overflow shelf into the shoreline. City drainage engineers say it could reduce flooding by more than a foot in some residential areas during the type of downpour that comes about once every 100 years. (See previous Eagle story.)
  • Consider a $45,000 contract for drug and alcohol testing of transportation, police and fire employees. That kicks in some new random tests agreed the unions agreed to about a year ago, and it comes at a time when both the police and fire unions’ men and women are working under an expired contract.
  • Decide whether to OK a $67,225 remodel of the planning department’s meeting room that includes audio/visual components.
  • Rename Harvest Park, 9500 Provincial Lane, as “Bob Martz Park” in honor of former District 5 City Council member Bob Martz, who died of an apparent heart attack in January.
  • Vote to rezone an oddly shaped swath of land near McConnell Air Force Base to “Air Force Base District” as part of the city’s massive rezoning around the base to show military officials who may be preparing the next round of base closures McConnell is prepared for future expansion and has terrorism safeguards.

See the full agenda.

Who should fill Brewer’s City Council position?

As people sipped Coronas and sodas and mingled among the crowd at Carl Brewer’s campaign party Tuesday night, I was working the scene, trying to find out who’s going to fill Brewer’s shoes in District 1. We’ve got a list of potential contenders and we’re hoping you’ll add to it by clicking on the “comments” link below. The right person will need 100 signatures from district residents, an affirming vote from the District Advisory Board and a majority vote of the City Council.

Read More »

Where to party with the candidates

Want to see the face of victory or defeat? How about listen to a consolation or victory speech? How about free pretzels and punch? It all happens Tuesday night — when candidates rise and fall.

Carl Brewer’s watch party will be at 7 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town, 820 E. 2nd St. Mayor Carlos Mayans’ party starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Broadview Hotel, 400 W. Douglas. Les Osterman isn’t planning on a party. Sue Schlapp’s party will start at 7 p.m. at BG Bolton’s Sports Grill, 11423 E 13th Street. Paul Tobia will be at his home.

School board candidates Karl Peterjohn, Cindy Duckett and John Stevens will have a watch party at Oscar’s Sports Box at 353 N. Mead. Jeff Davis, Barb Fuller, and Betty Arnold, will be at the River City Brewery at 150 N. Mosley. Kevass Harding will make an appearence there but will spend most of the night at his church with his supporters at 1502 N. Dellrose.

We will hit as many of these places as possible. Stay tuned.

Mayoral candidates agree: shopping bags on heads don’t make sense

Mayoral candidates Carl Brewer and Carlos Mayans say those people with shopping bags, tickets and a dinner plate on their heads don’t make much sense to them.

“I probably would have used something a little different myself,” Brewer said, laughing. “I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what the catch was to it.”

“I think you said it all, it’s a little different,” Mayans said.

Their comments came during the candidates’ last face-to-face debate on KNSS NewsRadio 1330 this morning after host Gene Countryman asked whether the taxpayer-funded signs, which are on billboards all over the state, were a good idea.

“It just seems baffling to me,” Countryman said. (Get a podcast of the show here.)

The Greater Wichita Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Greteman Group, which made the ads, also took some heat in 2004 when the ad campaign was first displayed. The slogan — “We got the goods” — didn’t sound right to some grammar hawks. Ad writers, however, said the casual wording was intentional — like the “Got Milk” campaign.

Election Commissioner predicts 20 percent (again)

In February, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale predicted 20 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot in the primary. Only 13 percent of those registered showed up. Given general elections have better turnout, Gale is sticking with 20 percent again Tuesday. It probably won’t help that the National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of thunderstorms for Tuesday. Rain tends to keep voters home. But a barrage of last minute campaigning might counteract it.

Read More »

Partisan support for nonpartisan offices

Want lower taxes, better jobs, accountability, economic growth, personal freedom and limited government? The Sedgwick County Republican Party says their folks can do it — even in the non-partisan offices of mayor, city council and school board.

That’s the message in a recent Sedgwick County Republican Party mail-out flier that says “Wichita wins with Republican principles.” It lists Republicans Carlos Mayans, Sue Schlapp, Paul Gray and both Paul Tobia and Jeff Longwell for city races. Also on their list: Cindy Duckett, John Stevens, Karl Peterjohn and Jeff Davis for Wichita School Board positions. Then, the tiny asterisks: “*We encourage you to support the candidate of your choice.”

It’s not just the Rs showing their party colors, though. Mayoral candidate Carl Brewer, a Democrat, has also had help from his party — most notably from former Lt. Governor Tom Docking, who was one of three prominent Democrats to endorse Brewer in a letter sent to local Dems.

For more on the partisan nature of non-partisan elections and list of candidates’ registered party affiliations, see this previous post.