Category Archives: Wichita elections

Though turnout was low, voters made good choices

Wichita voters made good choices in Tuesday’s election. They wisely re-elected James Clendenin, Lavonta Williams and Janet Miller to the Wichita City Council. Also, Jeff Blubaugh appears to have defeated Joshua Blick in District 4, though provisional ballots won’t be counted until April 11. In the Wichita school board races, Michael Rodee won in District 5, while Joy Eakins has a slight lead over Scott B. Poor in District 2. The disappointments this election were the low turnout (only 6.19 percent in Sedgwick County) and some ugly campaigning and vandalism. Blick had his home and campaign signs defaced and a vehicle window smashed, and he obtained a protection-from-stalking order against former candidate Craig Gabel, who also is being investigated for possible campaign-finance violations.

Fluoride campaign rejected by those it aimed to help

Though fluoridated water would have benefited everyone,  the focus of the pro-fluoride campaign in Wichita was primarily low-income children, who have the most dental problems. So a map in Thursday’s Eagle of voting results in Wichita was striking. Some of the areas of the city that have the highest percentage of low-income children had the least support for fluoridation.

AP standing by abortion campaign story

Neither Associated Press nor MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow are backing down over a recent AP story on the role abortion was playing in the Sedgwick County district attorney’s race. AP quoted Operation Rescue president Troy Newman claiming that if District Attorney Nola Foulston “had done her job,” Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller “would still be alive today.” Newman contends that Foulston’s failure to prosecute Tiller is what led anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder to murder him. Maddow thinks it was irresponsible for AP to include Newman’s claims and to not mention Roeder’s links to Operation Rescue. “He didn’t get prosecuted so, obviously, he had to be shot, so says Operation Rescue, and so writes down the Associated Press, thus resulting in newspapers all over the country printing this absolutely wack-a-doo, uncontested, more than insinuation,” Maddow complained. She called on AP to retract the article, which AP refused to do. “We were quoting someone who was playing an active role in the outcome of an election,” Paul Colford, the AP’s director of media relations, told MSNBC. “We stand by the story.”

Enough with the political signs

A reminder to the losers and winners alike in Tuesday’s election: The clock is ticking on the deadline to take down those unsightly signs. The Wichita ordinance says that “all signs shall be removed within seven days following the election in which the candidate is elected to office or is eliminated from further participation in the election as a candidate.” Once again in this election, sadly, it proved too much to hope that all those candidates aspiring to high places in law enforcement or the justice system would follow the rules for political signs, especially the one prohibiting them on public property including rights of way.

District attorney, sheriff primaries are close

The Aug. 7 GOP primary contests for Sedgwick County district attorney and sheriff are extremely close, judging from a new SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12. Of the 403 likely Republican primary voters polled, 37 percent favored Marc Bennett to replace retiring District Attorney Nola Foulston, compared with 36 percent for Kevin O’Connor. In the sheriff’s race, incumbent Robert Hinshaw (in photo) drew 43 percent, compared with challenger Jeff Easter’s 42 percent.

Ballot questions should be understandable

Good for Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby, for carrying an amendment on the House floor this week that would allow local officials to provide voters with a plain-language explanation of what they’re voting on. The issue arose during last month’s vote on the tax incentive for the Ambassador Hotel in Wichita. The official wording of the ballot question was so convoluted that it was difficult to know what a “yes” or “no” vote meant. There is understandable concern about whether officials could be trusted to write a neutral explanation of a ballot question, but Howell’s amendment provides some checks and balances. As Howell urged his fellow lawmakers:  “Let’s fix this mess.”

Good numbers for Brewer, Davis, Logan

Judging from the latest SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, election night could be happy for Mayor Carl Brewer (70 percent, in photo) and Wichita school board candidates Jeff Davis and Sheril Logan (40 and 35 percent in their respective races). Though the candidates have to wait for the results, voters can have their say already by using the 15 advance voting sites through Saturday.

Few expected to vote today

Only about 18,000 Wichitans — or 9 percent of those eligible and registered to vote — are projected to cast ballots in today’s primary, our editorial today noted. How sad. And risky. The fewer the voters, the greater the possibility that the voting won’t be representative of the public at large — as only a small group of motivated people can sway results. That is particularly the case in the at-large race for Wichita school board, which has 11 candidates vying for three spots on the April 5 general election ballot.

Illegally placed campaign signs proliferating

Because the Wichita mayor and City Council members approve the ordinance governing placement of political signs, candidates for those jobs arguably have a greater responsibility to follow the rules. And as Tuesday’s primary approaches, it’s getting ugly out there. For the record: Signs are prohibited on public property, including in the right of way between sidewalk and curb. And signs are allowed on private property only with permission.

Stand against threats, harassment

manningDanIt should go without saying that no one should be threatened or harassed because of his or her sexuality. But after District 91 Democratic House candidate Dan Manning received a death threat last weekend, it apparently does need saying. Loudly. A note clipped to Manning’s apartment door said “Will DIE,” “Kill,” “MURDER,” “Head OFF” and derogatory references to homosexuality. Manning, who immediately contacted the police, said he was initially intimidated by the threat but that it has now strengthened his resolve. It should also strengthen the community’s resolve to stand against such hate.

Don’t be skimpy on debates

goyle,rajPolitical campaigns often go through a lot of calculations in deciding the number and format of candidate debates. But the candidates — particularly those for Kansas governor and U.S. Congress — need to be committed to having several debates, including some where the public can ask questions. It was disappointing and disconcerting that Democratic 4th Congressional Candidate Raj Goyle took so long to decide whether to participate in a Wichita Crime Commission forum with the GOP candidate Mike Pompeo that the commission was forced to cancel the event.

Tiahrt-Glickman rematch?

glickman5Is Dan Glickman interested in running for Senate in 2010? “I suppose I’m genetically interested in it. I’ve always been interested in politics and public service,” he told Politico. But Glickman, a former Democratic member of Congress from Wichita and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said one problem is that he’s not a great fundraiser. “To run for Senate requires you to do nothing but raise huge quantities of money, and fundraising isn’t interesting or attractive to me,” he said. But the possibility of a rematch with Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard _ who defeated Glickman in 1994 and is running for Senate _ is intriguing. “Well, I guess it would be a very interesting revenge match, but I like Todd,” Glickman said.

Why doesn’t Wichita try ‘candi-dating’?

It’s hard to remember a spring campaign season in Wichita more sleepy than the one that ends Tuesday. The comparatively few candidate forums and yard signs don’t bode well for turnout. Maybe next time Wichita should jump on a new trend in campaigning: events inspired by “speed dating,” during which voters can spend a few minutes talking to a candidate before moving to the next one’s table. A duck call ended each 10-minute session at a recent Topeka municipal campaign “speed chat.” Lawrence held one a few weeks ago in which the question sessions lasted for five minutes. The system has its problems, though. “If this is like speed dating, I’ve seen some people who have hung around for a second date,” observed former Topeka Mayor Duane Pomeroy.

Pay attention to spring campaigns

Though the depressingly low turnout didn’t even break 10 percent, Tuesday’s primary for Wichita City Council identified incumbent member Lavonta Williams and community activist Janet Miller as the favorites in the first and sixth districts, respectively. All three face-offs in the April 7 general election — Williams versus James Barfield, Miller versus Bob Aldrich and incumbent Jim Skelton versus Charley “Chuck” Dahlem — promise a brisk debate on how the city should wield its economic development tools and cover its bills during the downturn, among other issues. Voters citywide also need to get engaged in the races for three Wichita school board seats. Such nonpartisan elections may not generate a lot of heat, but their results can spell success or big trouble.

Early voting blunted effect of Gale’s cuts

Time to stop worrying about Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale’s deep cuts two years ago in the number of polling places. According to a local SurveyUSA poll taken on Election Day for KWCH, Channel 12, 89 percent of voters said they waited less than one hour at the polls, and 69 percent said they waited less than 10 minutes. Fortunately, many voters also took Gale’s advice to take advantage of early voting options. Gale said last week that about 111,200 people voted before Election Day in Sedgwick County, either by mail or in person. That’s more than 57 percent of the total county vote of 194,688, and dramatically more than the 24,600 who cast early votes in 2004.

Foulston could face fight

Could Sedgwick County see a real district attorney race this fall? In a SurveyUSA poll of 1,000 adults last weekend for KWCH, Channel 12, 19-year incumbent Democrat Nola Foulston garnered 51 percent support, compared with 45 percent for Republican Mark Schoenhofer. Beyond partisanship, the poll showed a strong preference for Foulston among women, 50-plus and pro-choice voters.

Point is that Fahnestock would pay

It’s no big deal that Wichita businessman George Fahnestock doesn’t live in the Wichita school district but will take a lead in advocating that district voters approve a proposed $370 million bond issue. As owner of Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC & Electric, Fahnestock is a Wichita employer who pays USD 259 school taxes and will pay more if the bond issue passes Nov. 4. And the more Wichita or any city grows, the more likely its prominent citizens will live in its burgeoning suburbs. But the discussion of Fahnestock’s Andover address demonstrates that, to be successful, the pro-bond campaign will need a broad range of business leaders on its side.

Voters will need to be persuaded

schoolsA poll released last week by Survey USA and sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, quantified the challenge USD 259 boosters have leading to the May 6 vote on a $350 million bond issue to build new schools and improve fine arts and athletics facilities: 51 percent of those polled said they think $350 million is too much money; 34 percent said it’s just about right. Asked about the school board’s handling of tax dollars, 47 percent said the board has been “mostly irresponsible”; 39 percent said it has been “mostly responsible.”

When voters say no

schoolmoneyAs Wichita looks to another school bond issue, Wichita County is dealing with another school bond defeat — the third in five years. The latest proposal, which lost last week by five votes, would have built a $5 million elementary school by raising property taxes an average of $8.43 a month in Leoti. Bringing the outdated and termite-damaged school up to code could take $6.5 æmillion, but the naysayers prevailed. “People need to understand,” said supporter Charlie Ayers, “if you don’t pay for your community, your community dies.”

What’s wrong with Donald Trump, Dee Stuart, Russ Meyer?

The “What’s Wrong” guy from the annual Gridiron show is back, and he is taking calls from Donald Trump, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and others. It’s the latest satirical video produced by The Eagle’s opinion staff and starring Bucky Walters. Enjoy.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Casino likely is coming; question is where

Today is a key date in the local expanded gaming debate. That’s because the Kansas Lottery Commission has on its agenda today whether to certify Sumner County’s 2005 referendum vote supporting expanded gaming. The Kansas attorney general’s office already has issued an informal opinion that the vote complies with the requirements of the law.
If the commission accepts the vote, as expected, that means if Sedgwick County voters decide against expanded gaming, a large casino likely will be built in Sumner County. So the Sedgwick County vote on Aug. 7 won’t be about whether a casino and its social costs should come to the area. The question will be where the casino might be located — in Sedgwick County or to the south.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Gambling ballot questions need translation

The question before Sedgwick County voters Aug. 7 seems simple enough, until you actually see the question, or rather questions. (The first is about whether to allow a casino. The second is about whether to allow slot machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park.)
Proposition No. 1:
Shall the following be adopted?
"Shall the Kansas lottery be authorized to operate a lottery gaming facility in Sedgwick County?"
Proposition No. 2:
Shall the following be adopted?
"Shall the Kansas lottery be authorized to place electronic gaming machines in Sedgwick County?"
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Making it hard to imagine a Century II casino

In his preshow remarks at Music Theatre of Wichita’s performances of "Disney’s High School Musical," producing director Wayne Bryan has sounded a caution about the rumors of a possible Century II casino in a subtle but effective way. He mentions that the 77 talented area young performers in the exuberant staging are cause for celebrating that the "beautiful" 38-year-old building is used for its intended purpose. Judging from the positive vocal response his comment has drawn from the sold-out crowds, lots of people agree.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Ruffin: Trump casino would pay off for Wichita

Casino and real estate mogul Phil Ruffin, in a phone interview this week with The Eagle editorial board, said he remains serious about bringing a Trump casino to Wichita — and that friend and business partner Donald Trump “is excited about it,” too.
As a market, Wichita is “on the edge” in qualifying for a Trump casino, Ruffin said, but he thinks it can work here. A downtown location is still his preference, but he’s hedging his bets and looking at other sites as well.
Kansas Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten told The Eagle that Kansas law, which forbids a dog track owner from also owning a casino, probably wouldn’t prevent Ruffin from doing the project, but Van Petten has asked Attorney General Paul Morrison for a legal opinion on the matter.
Ruffin said local anti-gaming groups are “totally wrong” to argue that a casino wouldn’t attract tourists and economic development.
A Trump casino, known for its opulence, would “bring people in from Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri,” he said, and bring dollars into the community.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Woodard still the first, no longer the only

The morning after Carl Brewer’s election as mayor of Wichita, our editorial called him the “first African-American to become mayor of Wichita via a citywide vote.” That prompted at least one reader to ask: What about A. Price Woodard Jr.? The key words were “via a citywide vote.” Woodard, an attorney, became the first African-American on what was then called the Wichita City Commission in 1967, then the first African-American mayor when he was chosen for that job by his fellow commissioners. He was mayor from April 14, 1970, to April 13, 1971, and died in January 1972. His name adorns a downtown park, and the Legislature honored him with resolution calling him “a man of good humor, great courage; who could tell the truth and look the world right in the eye.” In 1989, Wichita voters began electing their mayors directly.
Posted by Rhonda Holman