Mayoral candidates speak out, part I

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Wichita mayoral primary is a week from Tuesday and the polls are already open for advance voting.  But!  Do you know who's even running?  

Several Wichita voters have told KAKE News they're having trouble learning about all the different candidates.  So KAKE's Pilar Pedraza is sitting down with each of them to learn more about where they'd like to see the city heading.

There are nine different people running for Mayor of Wichita.  That's too many for us to put them all in one story.  So in order to decide who went first, we picked names out of a hat. 

Monday Pedraza sat down with Marty Mork, Brandon Whipple, and Brock Booker to ask them about their plans for the city, in part one of our Mayoral Profile series. 

"Why are you running?"

That's the first question most voters ask political candidates.  

"I'm running on transparency in local government," Booker said.  "Right now we're seeing a lot of backroom deals being done, a lot of things where not everyone in the decision making process can get to the table."

"To me Wichita has been the American Dream," said Whipple, who came to Wichita as an Americorps volunteer and ended up staying here to become the first college graduate in his family.  "And my goal is to make sure it stays the American Dream, not just for my kids, but for everyone's kids who are in the city."

"We need a change in Wichita," said Mork,a self-described conservative.  "And the change I'm talking about is cutting taxes, stop big spending and bring jobs to Wichita, good paying jobs."

Mork is a father and grandfather who's lived in Wichita his entire life, working for Boeing and then the State of Kansas.  He sees Wichita's future getting brighter through business tax cuts and a diversified job market.

"We need more than just aircraft.  We need a lot of good paying jobs," he said.

Brock Booker says it's time for millennials to step up and do their part in leading the city, solving problems like how to help Wichitans with jobs but no cars get to work on the weekends.

"I've been a proponent of having our bus services on Sunday," Booker said.  "And how I want to do that as mayor is pulling funding out of reserves that are already there and putting it back in the system so we can expand route coverage and people that work at Spirit and other places can access it, work second or third shift, and then get back home."

Brandon Whipple is one of the youngest lawmakers in Topeka, representing his Wichita neighborhood there for the last seven years.  He says his experience with developing policy for the state will help him solve problems here in the city, problems like an understaffed police force.

"One of the biggest problems we have right now is our police force has about a third less officers than they need right now.  They're responding to live break-ins with an average of seven minutes," Whipple said.  "What we have to do is we have to make sure that we are putting the funding that needs to be in place to keep our communities safe, all of Wichita's communities, not just the richest areas."

Pilar will sit down with three more mayoral candidates on Wednesday in part II of the series, and the last three on Friday in part III.  After all three parts have aired, the entire interview with each candidate will be posted online here at KAKE.com for the public to view.

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