The Wichita Pachyderm Club had planned to hear from all Wichita City Council candidates Friday during its weekly luncheon at the Petroleum Club downtown.
Instead, they got a look at the District 4 race because incumbents Lavonta Williams in District 1, James Clendenin in District 3 and Janet Miller in District 6 did not attend the luncheon. Their respective opponents – Dave Thomas, Clinton Coen and Marty Mork – attended.
District 4 candidates Joshua Blick and Jeff Blubaugh were mostly genial days after Blubaugh launched a public attack on Blick’s past financial problems.
Blick referenced the attack once but largely stayed with his campaign themes.
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“We have to make sure the people’s voices are being heard,” he said.
Blubaugh also referenced those voices, saying constituents are frustrated with their lack of influence at City Hall.
“They feel like they’re at the end of their rope,” he said, “and that the city of Wichita doesn’t care.”
Blubaugh said they want their tax dollars spent on infrastructure, like street repairs, and less on downtown revitalization.
Thomas said he supports a major restructuring of city expenditures, limited to “safety and infrastructure.”
“Everything else is secondary,” he said.
Thomas also criticized the council’s plans for a new central library downtown – dismissing it as a “$45 million homeless shelter” – despite the city’s move last year to trim the project by $15 million.
Coen described himself as a fiscal conservative and criticized the city’s spending habits.
“There’s no responsibility for city money,” he said. “In south Wichita, the city streets are crumbling, but we have a nice hotel downtown that’s mostly vacant. The city has lost its focus.”
Mork advocated drastic tax cuts, including the suggestion that private residences should be exempt from taxation. He described himself as a strong advocate of gun rights.
“Every home in America should be armed,” he said.