Guest Commentary

Cindy Claycomb: Accusations of cronyism, lack of transparency are disappointing

I love Wichita. I decided to pursue public office with the singular motive to move Wichita forward. I am not up for re-election; however, I am very disheartened by the amount of acrimony, partisanship, and personal attacks in this local election. I cannot remember a more contentious Wichita election. Local elections are designed to be non-partisan and based on issues. Unfortunately, my fellow Wichita City Council members have been portrayed as a deceitful collective by their opponents and some of the Wichita media. This situation is very discouraging.

Those of you who know me personally recognize that I had absolutely no reason to run for office beyond my desire to move Wichita forward. I had successful professional careers in business (over a decade) and higher education (over two decades) and could have easily retired. Instead, I decided to run for elected office to serve the constituents of District 6 and the City of Wichita. I say this not to tout my personal achievements, but rather to demonstrate that Wichita City Council members have alternatives to serving on City Council.

I do not speak for my fellow Wichita City Council members and am not endorsing any particular candidate. Nonetheless, I want all residents to know that City Council members are not in this profession for the money or the glory. City Council members are part-time employees, although we typically work for our districts upward of 30 to 40 hours a week, with frequent late night and weekend meetings end events. We could make considerably more money if we worked full time in alternate careers. While we are privileged to represent the City of Wichita at many local, regional, and national events, neighborhood meetings, and non-profit events, these meetings and events take us away from our families, free time, and other jobs that Council Members hold in order to provide for their families.

There have been questions about a more robust code of ethics for Wichita City Council members. In my almost two years in office, on several occasions I have visited with our city’s legal counsel for guidance on potential conflicts of interest. I have received sound advice and acted on that advice. I am guided by my own internal ethics and principles and did not see how changes to the code would influence my behavior; however, as I have visited with constituents and had time to reflect on the Wichita City Council code of ethics, I realized that a review of the code would be beneficial. I think that constituents would appreciate a review and would feel more comfortable with explicit definitions of, for example, gifts, friends, and personal influence or gain.

I expect my fellow council members and the mayor to stand up for their personal principles and to make decisions that serve the whole community. The accusations of cronyism, lack of ethics, and lack of transparency are disappointing. Unlike other large cities, Wichita residents can call or email any council member or the mayor to discuss their concerns. I have never denied a resident a return email, phone call, or personal meeting. We each hold coffees, breakfasts, and District Advisory Board meetings that provide residents opportunities for personal interaction with council members. I encourage each Wichitan to study the issues this election and not be swayed by the general accusations, partisanship, and personal attacks that have become part of this election season. Understand where your council member stands, reach out to them with your questions, and then vote based on the knowledge you have gained.

Cindy Claycomb is a member of the Wichita City Council representing District 6.

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