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Ex-City Council member Paul Gray to seek interim spot when O’Donnell leaves

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, at 9:11 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at 7:08 a.m.

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Paul Gray, a former Wichita City Council member, said Tuesday he will seek the interim spot in District 4 created by the resignation of state Sen.-elect Michael O’Donnell.

Gray, however, said he will not seek election for the position in the spring elections. Joshua Blick and Jeff Blubaugh said they will seek both the interim seat and run for election in District 4, which covers southwest Wichita.

O’Donnell’s resignation is effective Dec. 31.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the council set Dec. 18 as the filing deadline for the interim position and Jan. 8 as the date it will vote on O’Donnell’s temporary replacement.

Gray served a pair of four-year terms on the council from 2003 to 2011 before having to step aside because of term limits. Because there has been a council election since then, he could run for a full term in the spring.

No thanks, he said.

Gray said he’s plenty busy running two construction companies and raising three children, including a three-week-old son.

“I will be very honored and happy to serve for the interim,” he said, “but I have no intention of running for the seat. I’d leave once the election takes place. That way all the people who want to run for the seat can put forth their campaigns.”

Blick, who recently started working for Bosley Tires, lost a close election for the District 4 seat to O’Donnell in April 2011. O’Donnell received 51 percent of the votes.

“I’m going to run again,” said Blick, who is president of the South Wichita Neighborhood Association, which also includes part of District 3.

Blick said he knew would file for the spring election, but said he had been “tossing back and forth” on whether to also seek the interim position.

“I’ve allocated time for it,” he said.

Blubaugh, a Goddard school board member, will be making his second run at an elected position. He lost the Republican primary for the state House’s 97th District by 27 votes in August to incumbent Les Osterman.

“I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and see what happens,” said Blubaugh, who runs a real estate company with his brother Jamey.

District 4’s advisory board will hold public forums to screen candidates and then recommend at least four and no more than five names to the council to select for the interim spot. The council will interview the candidates on Jan. 7.

O’Donnell said he wouldn’t endorse a candidate to the council because he thought that would work against the candidate.

“I’m more popular in my district than I am with the council,” said O’Donnell, who has frequently been on the losing end of 6-1 votes.

Filing for the interim position is done at the city clerk’s office. A person needs 100 signatures from residents in District 4 on a petition in order to file for the position.

The person selected by the council would be eligible to run in the spring election and complete O’Donnell’s term, which expires in 2015.

The council could have opted to let the seat remain vacant until the April 2 general election. But the council had previously agreed that it wouldn’t be good to leave District 4 unrepresented for more than three months.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or at rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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