Update at 5 p.m.: As of the close of the first polling day, seven voters had cast ballots for the August city primary election, according to the Sedgwick County election commissioners’ office.
All of those voters were in Wichita’s 1st City Council district. There were no votes cast in the Haysville or Park City elections.
Three hours into voting for Wichita City Council District 1, the race was locked in a four-way tie.
Zero, zero, zero to zero.
Advance voting in the Aug. 1 primary election opened at 8 a.m. Monday at the Sedgwick County election office downtown.
But by 11 a.m., “We haven’t had anyone vote yet,” Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said. “It’s sad.”
This is the first Wichita election since the state Legislature ordered city and school board elections to be moved from spring to fall, a move supporters said would increase voting in what have been traditionally low-turnout contests.
Although three City Council districts are contested in the November 7 general election, only District 1 attracted enough candidates to justify an Aug. 1 primary to winnow the field from four candidates.
The top two vote-getters will square off in the general election.
What that means for Wichitans is that right now, only voters from District 1, in east-central Wichita, will be issued ballots for the primary election.
District 1 candidates are:
▪ Janet Wilson: Wilson is a neighborhood activist and a member of the Wichita Transit Advisory Board. She works for neighborhood improvement and blight reduction in the northeast community. She also serves on the board of Wichita Independent Neighborhoods.
▪ Mike Kinard: Kinard served on the Wichita school board from 2001 to 2005 and is a former candidate for Congress. He owns a photography/video/archiving company. He is a former board member of the Wichita YMCA and the Urban League of Kansas.
▪ Brandon Johnson: Johnson founded the advocacy group Community Operations Recovery Empowerment in 2011. CORE is active in police/community relations, economic development, youth mentoring and establishing community gardens. He is a member of the District 1 District Advisory Board and a former member of the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
▪ John Stevens: Stevens is a longtime conservative activist and a former candidate for the state House of Representatives. He is president of the Wichita Pachyderm Republican Club.
Lehman said she has had some inquiries from voters in other districts, but told them they’ll have to wait for the November election.
At present, the only voting site open is in the county election office, at the Historic County Courthouse at 510 N. Main, Wichita.
District 1 residents can vote there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through July 28. The office also will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on July 31.
Outside Wichita, there are two primary races where voters can begin voting now if they’re willing to make the trip to downtown Wichita, Lehman said.
Those races are Haysville City Council Ward 4 and Park City City Council Ward 3.
Starting July 27, four more advance voting sites will be opened in the county. Again, only voters from Wichita District 1, Park City Ward 3 and Haysville Ward 4 will be issued ballots.
The satellite voting sites:
▪ Grace Presbyterian Church, 5002 E. Douglas.
▪ Haysville Community Library, 210 Hays.
▪ Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 2727 E. 25th St. North.
▪ Reformation Lutheran Church, 7601 E. 13th. St.
Those four sites will be open noon to 7 p.m. on July 27 and 28, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 29.
Any voter who is eligible to cast a ballot in a contested primary race can vote downtown or at any of the satellite sites.