Activist kicks off council campaign with help from Thompson, Faust-Goudeau

Brandon Johnson greets supporters Monday at the kickoff of his campaign for the Wichita City Council. (April 17, 2017)
Brandon Johnson greets supporters Monday at the kickoff of his campaign for the Wichita City Council. (April 17, 2017) The Wichita Eagle

Community activist Brandon Johnson officially launched his campaign Monday to replace Lavonta Williams as the City Council member from Wichita’s District 1.

State Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau and recent congressional candidate James Thompson endorsed and introduced Johnson in a campaign launch that drew about 40 supporters. The campaign is for an open seat because term limits mean Williams can’t run for re-election in November.

Thompson said he met Johnson about three months ago and was immediately impressed.

“As I got to know him more, I came to realize he really does define leadership,” Thompson said. “It’s amazing when you meet somebody like that that you know is going to do well in this community, in this state and probably going up to the national level, I would imagine.”

Johnson said that, for now, he’s focused on local issues, such as making sure District 1 gets its fair share of city services.

“As you look around, you take a trip across the city, you see great parts of town that are developed and roads get fixed every two years,” he said. “Businesses are flocking to those areas. And then you see others that are not like that.

“And in football, they taught us we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and it’s time that we focus on those weak links and build them to be stronger as well.”

Johnson studied business administration at Friends University, where he played football for four years and then became running backs coach for three years.

He also called for improvement of community policing efforts in Wichita, with more “transparency and accountability.”

“We need to get officers out of vehicles and into the community to know folks on a first-name basis, so we know who our officers are (so) when something’s going on, we know who to call,” he said.

Johnson has been involved with police/community relations through Community Operations Recovery Empowerment, an advocacy group he founded in 2011. CORE works in economic development, youth mentoring and establishing community gardens.

He is a member of the District 1 District Advisory Board and served on the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention from 2005 to 2015. He received appointments to the board from Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson and Sam Brownback.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas