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Former Wichita mayor Bob Knight considers another run at office

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

Former Wichita mayor Bob Knight, 72, is seriously considering another bid for the city’s highest office.

Knight, the first elected Wichita mayor by a popular vote serving five terms spanning from 1980 to 2003, said he’s been asked by supporters to seek the job vacated in April 2015 by the term-limited Carl Brewer.

“I believe I have obviously considerable experience,” Knight said. “And everybody has their way of approaching challenges and opportunities. It’s just something I’ve been asked about a lot so I’m taking a hard look at it.”

He anticipates a final decision on the race in the next two months.

Knight said one reason to run is the growing number of financial challenges the city faces – water sources, water rates, utility infrastructure – with hefty price.

“It’s very easy for issues to become very important quickly,” Knight said, “things like water, water rates, electric rates. I think there’s a whole range of issues that could very easily get away from us.”

Knight said he’s not pointing fingers at the current council, just noting the complexities of the challenges facing Wichita.

“Issues can change with disconcerting swiftness,” he said. “I think there needs to be elected officials who keep their finger on the pulse of the city and react quickly and appropriately.”

One example is the city’s water shortage, that materialized in February when fears grew that Cheney Reservoir would go dry in 2015.

“I’m confused about the water issue,” Knight said. “When I was mayor, I was assured we had a 50-year supply for the community, even including projected growth. And I think that figure’s been used since I left. I don’t know what happened.”

Knight’s philosophy would mesh with the customer service emphasis of City Manager Robert Layton.

“I think you have to do the ordinary things well as a city,” Knight said. “It’s a very comprehensive thing that’s really quite challenging.”

He served as a city commissioner and City Council member. Knight resigned as mayor in 2003 to take a post as the Kansas Secretary of Commerce.

Since leaving public life, Knight has been active in the Kansas casino industry, leading drives to bring a casino to the Wichita area.

In early 2012, he underwent brain surgery after suffering a fall.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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