To say Jon Rolph is a little busy is an understatement.
The 35-year-old owner of Sasnak Management has four kids ages 5 and younger.
And he recently joined three other people – Envision’s Michael Monteferrante, attorney Moji Fanimokun and attorney Harvey Sorensen – to co-chair Yes Wichita, the group campaigning in favor of the 1-cent-on-a-dollar sales tax voters will consider in November.
He took on the role because of his family.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“That’s a big part of my driver in this deal,” he said recently at the new Yes Wichita campaign headquarters, 120 E. 1st. “I think about the community that we pass on to the next generation. I have four members of the next generation living in my house. They’re counting on me to do my best to give them the kind of community they’d want to live in.
The proposed city sales tax could generate nearly $400 million over five years and finance a new water supply, street maintenance and repair, job development and transit improvements.
Rolph was born and raised in Wichita, attended Collegiate High School and graduated from Baylor University in Texas. A few years ago, he took over at his family’s business, Sasnak Management, which started in 1975 and has more than 40 Applebee’s and Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants in six states.
He and his wife, Lauren, have four kids: Emma, Olivia, David and Peter.
“This is too important of a moment for our community,” Rolph said. “I just feel in my DNA that this is one of those decisions that a community makes that determines the next five to 10 years of its future in a significant way.”
When did the Yes Wichita group form?
Really it formed the week after the city council vote. There were several of us that were interested in what the city council was going to do. After they voted, we knew that we needed to organize a group that was willing to go educate the citizens on this, not only knowing what was in the sales tax, but why it’s so important. We were well aware that a side had already formed to try and convince people against this.
How many people are involved?
We’re regularly having around 30 to 40 at our weekly campaign meetings and that’s people coming every week. And we have a much broader volunteer base of people who have been willing to give money, volunteer, be active out there. I’d guess the campaign committee is closer to 60 or so people. These numbers are literally changing every day for us because of so many people jumping on board.
What’s the game plan up until Nov. 4?
The game plan is to educate, educate, educate. We’ve got to get out there and just help the community see what this is and help them see through the voices of fear and cynicism and let them start to understand how this is a very proactive step: Wichita planning around its foundational needs. You need to have a strong economy and a strong community. We’re figuring out the best ways to educate, some may be through the radio or door to door or friends calling friends. This Yes Wichita campaign will be very grassroots, very broad based, and I would hope people are more likely to hear about this from a friend.
The real message inside of this is this is our hometown. This isn’t a political issue. It’s not an issue of political philosophy. It’s about our home. It’s about our neighbors and our kids. It’s water and jobs. How do you get more basic to the foundations of the community than that? And it’s a moment for us to decide if we’re going to be proactive.
You’ve taken this on with three co-chairs?
We said we’re willing to be the point of the spear on this deal. We’ll be out front. But we know we’re going to need everybody. We will get outspent on this campaign. We do not have the resources available to us that the other side has. So we’ve got to be smarter and we’ve got to rely on our volunteers and we’ve got to rely on the truth that the facts are on our side.
To volunteer, get a sign, donate or ask questions, contact Yes Wichita at:
▪ Phone: 316-990-4212
▪ E‐mail: YesOnNov4@VoteYesWichita.com
▪ Website: www.VoteYesWichita.com