Elections

21-year-old college student running for District 5 City Council seat

William Beliles is running for Wichita City Council in District 5. (Jan. 14, 2015)
William Beliles is running for Wichita City Council in District 5. (Jan. 14, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

The race for the District 5 City Council seat is gaining a third candidate.

William Beliles, a 21-year-old political science major at Butler Community College, has filed documents with Sedgwick County to represent west Wichita.

“My generation will eventually have to step up to leadership roles in the community and I figured, ‘Why wait? Learn now and figure it out,’” he said.

A 2012 graduate of Eisenhower High School in Goddard, Beliles was born and raised in Wichita.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on in their own backyard,” Beliles said. “But everyone has an opinion on what goes on on the national level. To me, what got me into politics was my love for the community and my desire to know and fix. I like to go fix (things).”

This is his first run for office. He said he regularly attends District 5 advisory board meetings, but he has not attended any council meetings.

“I want to hear the people just as much as I want to hear my politicians,” he said. “I feel like that’s commonly ignored. People don’t go around and listen to their people and what they want as much as they’re focused on what happens at those meetings.”

He said his campaign is working out details of his platform and the issues he wants to prioritize.

But the issues that were part of the failed sales tax issue in November – water, street maintenance, transit and job development – are still important issues that need to be evaluated, Beliles said.

“If we can make Wichita a more playful place, a fun place, an entertaining place, it’s going to attract a lot of young entrepreneurs here because Wichita will have a reason for them to come start a business and enjoy their stay,” he said.

“A little more transparency needs to be brought to the table. When it comes to safety, since safety is such a big topic on the national and local level when it comes to our police department, I firmly believe we must reunite the people and the police department and not leave the loop broken.”

Council member Jeff Longwell is running for mayor and has served the maximum two four-year terms for District 5.

The two other candidates for the seat, Gary Bond and Bryan Frye, began their campaigns a few months ago.

Bond, 57, is in marketing and sales for Top Master counter tops and is a member of the Wichita Area Builders Association.

Frye, 48, ran against Longwell for the seat in 2007. He is marketing director for KAKE-TV and president of the city’s park board.

Filing deadline for the spring city election is Jan. 27.

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

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