Politics & Government

So far, candidates too few to hold a primary

With half a day left for candidates to file for local office, Wichita city and school races had not drawn enough candidates to force primaries in any district, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said.

Five people filed Friday to run for the four Wichita City Council seats up for election, bringing the total number of candidates to eight.

The Wichita school board had a total of three candidates for four seats — one each in Districts 1, 2 and 6, leaving no contenders in west Wichita’s District 5.

The filing deadline is noon Tuesday. City offices will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“At this point we have not had enough filings to generate a single primary in any race across Sedgwick County,” Lehman said Friday afternoon.

“That’s pretty rare.”

A race would have a primary election if it had at least four candidates for one seat. An at-large race would have a primary if it had more than three times as many candidates as the number of open seats. The primary election would be Feb. 26. The general election is April 2.

Lehman said she expects more candidates to file Tuesday morning.

Wichita council candidates file at the Wichita city clerk’s office, 455 N. Main.

School board candidates file at the Sedgwick County Election Office, 510 N. Main.

“We’re geared up and ready to go Tuesday to process things as quickly as we can,” Lehman said.

Wichita City Council

Filing on Friday in council races were incumbents Lavonta Williams in northeast Wichita’s District 1, James Clendenin in District 3 and vice mayor Janet Miller in District 6.

Also filing Friday in District 6 was Richard Stephenson, an Occupy Wichita member who has appeared at council meetings to protest police-involved shootings. Marty Mork, a recurrent candidate for local office, filed earlier to run against Miller. District 6 covers parts of north and northwest Wichita.

Clendenin filed to seek his first full term. He now is completing the final two years of an unexpired term created when Jim Skelton became a county commissioner. He will face Clinton Coen in District 3, which serves portions of south and southeast Wichita.

Joshua Blick also filed Friday to serve the remainder of former council member Michael O’Donnell’s unexpired term in southwest Wichita’s District 4. He will face Wichita real estate agent Jeff Blubaugh. O’Donnell stepped down after winning the District 25 seat in the Kansas Senate.

Council members are elected to four-year terms. They are paid around $35,000 a year.

Wichita school board

By Friday afternoon, Wichita school board candidates had filed in three of four districts. The remaining seat, in District 5, is held by Lanora Nolan, who has not said whether she plans to seek re-election.

East Wichita’s District 2 has drawn newcomer Joy Eakins, a software design consultant and school volunteer. Wichita State University administrator Connie Dietz, who holds the seat, said last week that she would not seek a fourth term.

Eakins is president of Cornerstone Design and Development Inc. and has worked as a substitute teacher and tutor in Wichita schools.

Incumbent Betty Arnold, a retired state auditor, has filed for re-election in District 1. She won her seat in 2007 after filling an unexpired term and was re-elected in 2009. The district covers parts of east and northeast Wichita.

Lynn Rogers is seeking his fourth term in District 6, which covers Riverside, Midtown, parts of north and northeast Wichita, Park City, Kechi and Bel Aire. Rogers is a vice president at Farm Credit Leasing and was elected to the school board in 2001.

The Wichita school board serves the state’s largest school district, which has more than 51,000 students. Its members are unpaid and elected to four-year terms.

Contributing: Suzanne Perez Tobias and Bill Wilson of The Eagle.