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Economic development among mayoral candidate Jeff Longwell’s priorities for Wichita

Jeff Longwell, with his wife, Susie, formally announces his bid for Wichita mayor on Friday. Longwell has served two terms on the City Council for District 5 in west Wichita.
Jeff Longwell, with his wife, Susie, formally announces his bid for Wichita mayor on Friday. Longwell has served two terms on the City Council for District 5 in west Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita City Council member Jeff Longwell, along with his wife, Susie, stood in front of a crowd of about 75 supporters Friday afternoon at the Petroleum Club downtown to announce his official bid for mayor.

Longwell – who is wrapping up his second and final term as a council member for District 5 in west Wichita – laid out several of his priorities if he’s elected mayor in April, including the budget, economic climate, infrastructure and public safety.

“We have several things we need to address immediately,” Longwell said after the news conference. “Obviously we need to address the way that we do economic development. I’m going to ask our city manager that we place a moratorium on forgivable loans right now until we can reassess the way that we do economic development.”

He also wants to find a way for the city to help fund infrastructure at Wichita State University’s innovation campus, “because that is a game-changing way to do economic development in this city.”

Another immediate issue is the city’s transit system, which Longwell supports.

Funding for transit and economic development as part of a 1-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax was defeated by voters Nov. 4.

“Transit doesn’t need a Band-Aid, stop-gap approach,” Longwell said. “It needs a long-term solution, not a five-year fix. It probably should be addressed independently of the other things because financially it’s in the most peril right now.”

Mike Hill, former Sedgwick County sheriff, is Longwell’s campaign manager. Longwell said Hill is not shy about suggestions on how to improve public safety in Wichita. Longwell also said he supports the initiative to have body cameras on all of Wichita’s police officers.

“I think it certainly helps with trying to restore the public’s trust in government, and that’s a very first step but something we’re going to have to work very hard to restore,” Longwell said. “I don’t know that they’re the end-all, cure-all, but they’re part of that plan.”

Longwell first filed paperwork for the position in September, The Eagle previously reported. Mayor Carl Brewer cannot run again after serving two terms.

Longwell is president and owner of Ad Astra Print Resources. He was appointed to the council in 2007 and elected for a second term in April 2011.

He was previously a member of the Maize school board for 12 years. He’s a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

The spring registration deadline for candidates to file is Jan. 27, 2015, according to the Sedgwick County Election Office.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_ryan.

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