What do you get when you put six Republican City Council candidates in front of 77 people at a Republican lunch meeting?
About what you might expect: pledges to cut spending at City Hall and create a business-friendly environment, and criticism of the bloated federal government.
The candidates were Pete Meitzner and Charlie Stevens, running for east Wichita's District 2 seat; Joshua Blick and Michael O'Donnell, trying for southwest Wichita's District 4 seat; and Jeff Longwell and Lynda Tyler, competing for northwest Wichita's District 5 seat.
Everyone said they would support a move to have voters elect municipal judges; now the council chooses from nominees selected by a commission.
Most of the council hopefuls also said they would support the idea of having gun lockers at City Hall if the state alters the existing concealed carry law.
Currently, people have to leave their guns in their cars when they go into City Hall or the weapons can be confiscated by security.
The idea discussed at the candidate forum would allow licensed gun-holders to store their weapon in a locker inside the building and have it on them while walking from their car to the security gates.
District 2 candidate Stevens said he doesn't know the particulars of the gun locker idea to say whether he supports it.
But he said the city should do a better job of making people feel welcome when they come through security scanners at the entrance of City Hall.
"When you go to City Hall right now, they've got about five or six policemen just standing there staring at you at the front door," he said. "It doesn't give you the warm and fuzzy feeling that 'hey, you're welcome here.' "
Longwell said he supports gun lockers. But he said the police officers at the front door are accommodating and welcoming.
"We have great officers," he said.
Tyler said she would take the gun rules a step farther.
"I'm against the gun lockers because I think you should be able to carry your gun on in," she said. "If you've gone to the effort of getting a carry conceal, passing the tests and getting the license, you should be able to show your license and keep your gun."
A few differences emerged.
For example, Longwell said the city has focused on flooding projects in west Wichita, and he advocated encouraging more retention ponds that accompany commercial developments, such as one being built by Wal-Mart at its new store. He also said the city has reapplied for federal aid that could help a major flood-reduction project.
Tyler said the pond being built by Wal-Mart would quickly fill up during heavy rains. And she said she would like to create more floodable park land to alleviate the long-standing problem without spending millions of dollars on federally backed projects.