In the past decade, incumbent District 3 City Council member James Clendenin has accumulated a collection of traffic tickets.
Clendenin has been cited seven times since 2003 for speeding on city streets and state roads, several resulting in triple-digit fines, according to a records check by The Eagle.
He also has been stopped five times for safety-related vehicle issues, such as a broken taillight. And he has been cited five times for failure to provide proof of liability insurance. Those citations were dropped after Clendenin provided proof of his policy with State Farm.
Supporters of Clendenin’s opponent, Clinton Coen, have made an issue of the tickets in the District 3 campaign. Clendenin defeated Coen 73 percent to 13 percent in the Feb. 26 primary.
“To an extent, it speaks to his character, these habitual occurrences,” Coen said. “I mean, people speed but people just don’t get pulled over constantly. There’s definitely some pattern where he gets pulled over more frequently than a normal person.”
In response, Clendenin said, “If Clinton wants to talk about the issues in District 3, I will. If he thinks the race is about speeding tickets, then he’s out of touch with the issues that affect District 3.”
Clendenin took responsibility for the speeding tickets, and the repeated lack of an up-to-date insurance card in his vehicle.
“I was speeding,” Clendenin said. “I should not have been. I got the tickets, and I took the responsibility for them and paid them.
“I have never been without insurance. I have been insured with the same company since July 10, 1990, continuously for all of my vehicles, and that’s the end of the story. … I just haven’t been that good at putting the new insurance cards in my vehicles.”
Here is a list of Clendenin’s traffic issues, both before and after he was elected to the Wichita City Council in April 2011.
• October 2003: Speeding 71 mph in a 60 mph zone. Fined $96.
• December 2004: Speeding 56 in a 40. Fined $126.
• May 2005: Operating a vehicle with no registration or expired registration; no proof of liability insurance. Fined $80 on the registration charge. Failure to provide proof of liability insurance was dismissed upon proof.
• May 2007: Speeding 76 in a 60. Fined $66. Also charged with no proof of insurance. Liability insurance proof provided, case dismissed.
• August 2007: Speeding 30 in a 25. Fined $105.
• April 2009: Unspecified “speed over limit” charge. Fined $126.
• September 2010: Speeding 76 in a 60. Fined $176, including a charge of malfunctioning or non-functioning turn signals.
• May 2011: Failure to provide proof of liability insurance. Dismissed upon proof of liability insurance.
• July 2011: Speeding 37 in a 30. Fined $116. Also includes a citation for no seat belt.
• February 2012: Failure to provide proof of liability insurance. Dismissed April 2012 upon proof of liability insurance.
• May 2012: Failure to provide proof of liability insurance. Dismissed upon proof of liability insurance.
Clendenin also was fined in 2010 and 2012 for illegal parking in a private lot and in 2011 for a parking meter violation, according to ticket information from the Wichita Police Department.
Three of the liability insurance tickets were issued by Kansas Highway Patrol troopers. Some details of those tickets were unclear, so The Eagle asked KHP Trooper Gary Warner to interpret notations from the patrol officers on the backs of the tickets.
Warner said the original stops were for safety-related issues with Clendenin’s car, issues that seldom result in citations from troopers but rather an admonition to fix them. He said such equipment safety issues take a back seat to more serious potential offenses, such as providing proof of liability insurance.
Warner said the tickets show no evidence that Clendenin tried to use his position on the council to avoid them. He said troopers are instructed to note such attempts on the back of the tickets.
Clendenin’s court record also includes a 16-year-old medical bankruptcy, resulting from bills surrounding his wife’s illness.
He also was sued in 2011 for failure to pay a credit card that had already been paid off, Clendenin said, but Sedgwick County court records show the case was dismissed.