Guest Commentary

Jeff Blubaugh: My focus is on making Wichita the best it can be

Jeff Blubaugh is running for reelection to the Wichita City Council - District 4.
Jeff Blubaugh is running for reelection to the Wichita City Council - District 4. The Wichita Eagle

I grew up in a small town and came to Wichita soon after high school to work in aerospace. Wichita represented opportunity and the chance of a bright future. And then, many years later, I, along with over 18,000 other aerospace workers, lost their jobs in the largest recession our country had experienced since the Great Depression.

In 2013, we were still pulling ourselves up as a community, and I saw my district — my neighbors — continue to struggle. I wanted to help. With the encouragement of my wife, Meghan, and four great kids, I ran a small, self-funded campaign for City Council.

As soon as I was elected, I began weekly business tours, since a majority of aerospace was located in southwest Wichita. I wanted to learn more about what it would take to get businesses up and running again, ready to hire more employees. Fast forward to 2019, and now our problem has reversed; we are working to recruit more talent to Wichita to fill the surplus of jobs. I am very proud of the infrastructure improvements in southwest Wichita, including the I-235/Kellogg interchange, a new industrial park on South Seneca (which also kept a large pet-centric business from moving out of the city), expansions along South Meridian and West Street, and the south Wichita flood control pipeline along Orient to the river. I have also worked on countless business projects such as new construction on West Street, new restaurants on the Ridge Road corridor, and the southwest I-235 area expansion, including Gander Sports and the new RV outlet.

Quality of life has also been a focus of mine. I served on the branch library committee to ensure the Alford Branch library remains a great amenity for south Wichita. Aley Pool will undergo a major renovation next year, and we’re adding more pickle ball courts similar to the one installed at Seneca Park this year. The extension of the Prairie Sunset trail from 167th West to I-235 is another project I am very proud of, and I will continue to fight to extend it toward Newman University, Friends University and on toward Delano. I also invested $1 million from the sale of the Hyatt into Pawnee Prairie Park, adding playground equipment, a butterfly garden and making updates throughout the regional destination park.

Every day, I have the honor of waking up with a purpose: to make our city the best it can be and create a better tomorrow for my children and yours. I appreciate everyone who has been a part of these accomplishments, and I look forward to working together another four years serving on your City Council.

Jeff Blubaugh is a member of the Wichita City Council and is running for re-election in District 4.

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