The mood was light at Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting, and no wonder. The sometimes-ugly campaigns for council seats were over and the city just starred on a prestigious national stage along with the Wichita State University men’s basketball team. But the new council, including new Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner and newly elected member Jeff Blubaugh, has sobering work ahead of it.
Though economic activity is picking up, the city will need to be tight with its finances while proceeding with downtown revitalization, airport terminal construction and, eventually, a new Central Library. Mayor Carl Brewer and other council members should plan ahead for how to pay for needed water and sewer improvements over the next 30 years. They also need to work with City Manager Robert Layton and the new Wichita Transit director, Steve Spade, to improve the bus system’s service and finances. And Wichita must find the political will and public and private resources to better compete at business recruitment.
But the issue that probably should define this council is water, because the drought means Cheney Reservoir may be unable to help supply the city’s needs as soon as August 2015.
Blubaugh and re-elected members Lavonta Williams, James Clendenin and Janet Miller deserve thanks for their willingness to serve citizens in what, as Williams noted Tuesday, is no part-time job. So do the mayor, Meitzner and fellow council member Jeff Longwell.
Now, as Meitzner suggested, it’s time to be “strong and proud” about being the largest city in Kansas – a place that contributes to the betterment of the state in a big way.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman