Businessman Sheldon Kamen’s work on the USD 259 school board and Wichita City Council, including as mayor in 1988-89, made him a Wichitan of uncommon influence for two decades, and found him often in the thick of tough issues. Kamen, who died Wednesday at age 80, especially will be remembered for his roles in the ‘90s city-county trash wars, the early days of downtown revitalization and in transportation decisions, including the Kellogg freeway. His many letters to the editor over the years included a tongue-in-cheek acceptance of a “Dragger of the Foot” award from The Eagle editorial board, with Kamen writing: “I particularly want to thank my parents, who instilled in me a sense of responsibility to be used when spending other people’s money.” In a response to another editorial criticism, he wrote: “Evangelists might get visions from thunderbolts, but political leaders need to define and study those visions that will affect an entire city.” The editorial board had good words for him, too, over the years, noting in a 1995 endorsement that “he requests in his unfailingly polite manner for dollars-and-cents justification on behalf of the taxpayers.”
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