Candidate for mayor: City should focus on streets, other basics

If Darrell Leffew were mayor today, he would probably vote against the forgivable loans the Wichita City Council is considering to help a couple of local businesses that promise to create new jobs.

"We need to get back to the basics," he said several times as he announced his campaign for mayor Monday.

Leffew, who ran for mayor in 2007 but was eliminated in the primary, said he believes the city needs to focus on the roughly $100 million in street maintenance it is facing.

The city has boosted spending on streets — but not at a pace that will lead to dramatic improvement. Leffew said the city should redirect money otherwise spent as incentives to streets, police, fire and other basic services.

Leffew, owner of Meridian Construction and a former member of the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Commission, also said he thinks the city is spending too much time and money promoting downtown development.

"It's being done at the expense of the rest of the city," he said.

That drew applause from the roughly 20 people gathered at his brother's restaurant, Bubba's Nekked BBQ on 13th Street just west of McLean.

Several fellow limited-government supporters were in the crowd, including District 5 candidate and local tea party organizer Lynda Tyler, former County Commissioner Kelly Parks, businessman and former County Commission candidate Craig Gable, and James Barfield, a former council candidate and TV commentator.

Leffew said he'd like to reduce government regulation throughout City Hall, and that, if elected, he would consider a city position that looks for opportunities to eliminate regulations.

The city has dedicated a staff member to what it has called streamlining efforts in the past and continues to, though it may not be accomplishing what Leffew has in mind.

Leffew is one of five candidates challenging Mayor Carl Brewer in the March 1 primary. The top two vote-getters will face each other in the April 5 general election.

The other candidates are Roy R. Malcom, Marty Mork, Paul Rhodes and Scott Thode.

Feb. 14 is the last day to register to vote in the primary.