Field shaping up for Wichita mayor’s race

So far, seven people have officially filed for candidacy or filed forms to start fundraising for this spring’s mayoral race.

Mayor Carl Brewer cannot run again after serving two four-year terms.

The next mayor will face a variety of issues, such as finding a new water supply, repairing aging water and sewer infrastructure, determining the fate of the city’s bus system, and maintaining streets.

There’s also the issue of building trust between the community and city government.

The deadline to file for local elections is Jan. 27. The primary, on March 3, will narrow the field to two candidates for the April 7 general election.

In Kansas, any “individual, political action committee (PAC), party committee, corporation, partnership, trust, organization or association” can make a contribution to campaigns, according to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, which oversees city elections in Wichita.

City candidates can receive up to $500 in the primary election cycle and $500 in the general election cycle from individual donors. When there are uncontested primaries, candidates can receive limitless contributions from party committees.

The first filing deadline was last week for campaign contributions made by Dec. 31, 2014.

The mayor’s salary is $81,711.98. City elections are nonpartisan.

Here’s a look at the potential candidates, their top issues and how much money they have raised so far.

Robert Culver

Culver, 43, is a sheet metal worker at Tennison Bros. He was born in Wichita and grew up in Andover, Rose Hill and Goddard. Culver graduated from Goddard High School.

Top issues: A self-described “bull dog,” Culver’s biggest priorities are transparency, accountability and government spending.

“I’ve sat back and watched the taxpayers of Wichita get taxed to death by the city,” he said. “There’s a lot of unnecessary spending by the city government on things that don’t need to be done.”

Treasurer: Natasha Witt

Campaign Contributions: No paperwork has been filed with the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner's Office.

Sean Hatfield

Hatfield, 32, is an attorney for Maughan Law Group and has lived in Wichita since 2009. He’s originally from Bennington, a town near Salina, and attended the University of Kansas for his undergraduate degree and went to law school at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Hatfield was a part of the Coalition for a Better Wichita, a group that opposed the 1-cent-on-the-dollar city sales tax measure on the November ballot.

Top issues: In a previous interview, Hatfield said diversifying Wichita’s economy is essential to moving forward.

“The mayor and City Council, I don’t think they can create jobs, but the right city policies can promote job growth.”

He also thinks the city should consider more green initiatives, like citywide recycling, which he said could improve the quality of life and generate revenue if run properly.

Treasurer: Blake Shuart

Campaign Contributions: Hatfield has collected $5,375 in contributions and has $4,445 in cash on hand, according to the most recent campaign finance documents filed with the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner's Office.

His biggest contributors – each giving $500 – include himself, paralegal Darcie Gomez, homemaker Brenda Farha, retired business owner Alif Hourani, attorney Carl Maughan, homemaker Joan Farha, attorney Blake Shuart and real estate executive Nestor Weigand.

Dan Heflin

Heflin, 51, is a product engineer who owns Nu-Ans Design and NoMar Self Storage. He’s a former aircraft designer at Cessna. He previously ran for the 84th District legislative seat against Rep. Gail Finney in 2010 and 2012. Originally from Pratt, Heflin moved to Wichita for college. He received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Wichita State.

Heflin says his technical background could help with issues faced by the city so that the council wouldn’t have to rely as much on city staff.

Top issues: Heflin’s biggest priority would be getting a dedicated children’s hospital to serve Wichita and the rest of the region.

“I don’t really want to be in politics. I want to be in public service,” he said.

Treasurer: Myron Ackerman

Campaign contributions: No paperwork has been filed with the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner's Office.

Jeff Longwell

Longwell, 55, is the owner of Ad Astra Printing and has been a City Council member representing District 5 for the past eight years. He was a member of the Maize school board for 12 years.

Top issues: Longwell’s top priorities include improving the economic climate, infrastructure and public safety. He wants to find a long-term solution for the city’s bus system.

He also wants to find ways for the city to help fund infrastructure at Wichita State University’s innovation campus, “because that is a game-changing way to do economic development in this city.”

Treasurer: Mike Kuckelman

Campaign Contributions: Contributions total $23,880, with cash on hand totaling $22,234.04.

The biggest contributors to Longwell’s campaign, giving $1,000, include investment adviser Don Barry and Lora Barry; food service executive Joseph and Lisa Hemmelgarn; and Davis-Moore CFO Stuart Ray and Barbara Ray.

There were several other contributors for $500 listed in campaign documents.

Tony Rosales

Rosales, 38, is co-owner and operator of Twin Peaks on the east side. He was born and raised in Wichita and went to Bishop Carroll High School. This is his first run for office.

Top issues: Water and funding for a new central library are among Rosales’ priorities. He also would like more communication between government officials and constituents through online polling and information presented in layman’s terms.

“My goal really is to bring the people of Wichita into the actual process of being able to understand more of the details, to help the mayor and council members decide how to vote,” he said. “A lot of the candidates are more old-school Wichita, and I want to bring us toward the forefront.”

Treasurer: Bill Suchan

Campaign Contributions: No paperwork has been filed with the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner's Office.

Sam Williams

In June, Williams, 63, retired as an executive at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink – the state’s largest marketing firm – to run for mayor. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Williams moved to Wichita from Salt Lake City in 1989 with his wife and six kids.

This is his first foray into public office. He was appointed to the newly formed K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission in July by Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and was elected its leader. Williams said his background as a certified public accountant would be beneficial if he is elected.

Top issues: At his campaign announcement in December, Williams said his top priorities are job creation, government transparency, strengthened relationships with entrepreneurs and the community, and to be “the greatest salesman and cheerleader for Wichita.”

Treasurer: Albert Denny

Campaign Contributions: Williams has received contributions totaling $52,704.04. His campaign has $48,281 in cash on hand. Williams loaned his campaign $10,000.

Some of his top contributors were couples who gave a combined $1,000, including Envision CEO Michael Monteferrante and Teri Monteferrante; Koch Industries vice president Mark Nichols and Rebecca Nichols; physician Jason Williams and Amy Williams; Yingling Aviation executive Lynn Nichols and Sherry Nichols; entrepreneur Barry Downing and Paula Downing; energy executive C. Robert Buford and Martha Buford; retired Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner and Rhonda Turner; construction and industrial equipment executive Walter Berry and Polly Berry; Sullivan, Higdon & Sink managing partner Tom Bertels and Karen Bertels; accountant Bill Pickert and Traci Pickert; entrepreneur Jack DeBoer and Marilyn DeBoer; Kerry and Diane Sell; Gary and Karma Mason; Mark and Mary Hutton of Hutton Construction; Beverly and Ed Hutton; and Sunflower Bank Wichita president Randy Summers and Carole Summers.

Jennifer Winn

Winn, 44, is owner of Landscapes Inc., which she started 14 years ago with $100. Last fall, she ran against Gov. Sam Brownback in the Republican primary for governor and garnered about 37 percent of the vote.

Winn was born in Wichita and attended Wichita West High School. She has four children and eight grandchildren.

Treasurer: Shelly Pribanic

Top issues: Winn says her top priority if elected would be transparency in government. She has been a proponent of the local petition to reduce penalties for first-time possession of marijuana, which may also be on the spring ballot.

Campaign Contributions: Winn has received $718 in contributions and has $453.66 in cash on hand, according to documents filed with the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner's Office.

Winn’s top contributor was retiree Ron McAninch for $500.

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

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