Mayoral candidates clash in KAKE debate

Posted: Updated:

Brandon Whipple and Jeff Longwell went head to head Tuesday night on KAKE News in the only scheduled TV debate of the Wichita mayoral election.  From ethics to the nasty tone of the race to crime, they clashed on a bunch of issues.  

"I know my opponent has said that the environment in Topeka is toxic. It seems like that environment has slid it's way down to Wichita," Jeff Longwell said in answer to a question about just how ugly the race has gotten.  He called it the ugliest of his 25 year career.

Brandon Whipple put a the blame for a lot of that ugliness on Longwell.

"Jeff Longwell voted for that environment.  Jeff Longwell made it so this is the first mayor's race where outside interest groups, political action committees and LLC's can now play a part in it," Whipple said.

Another point of contention between the two came over how to help the police department deal with gun violence in Wichita. 

"When I earned the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, it's because I went to them and asked them.  We have twice the high crime rate in Wichita than it is nationally and I said, 'How do we cut that crime rate?'" Whipple said.

Longwell defended the city's current reliance on a 2017 WSU Study to improve the department.

"I knew I wasn't going to get the endorsement of the FOP when I did not endorse their plan to raise taxes in this community," he added.  "Because I believe that we are focused on safety."

Political analyst Dr. Russell Arben Fox watched the debate from our studios.  He was unsurprised by the clashes, especially those involving the controversy of Wichita's new water treatment plant controversy.

"That one's going to follow both of them all the way to Election Day," Dr. Fox said.  "I mean that is the big story because that's what's affecting the mayor's base of support most."

He didn't believe either candidate scored a clear win in the debate.

"Of course, mostly they're going to walk out in the exact same place," he said.

Fox added that the debate was unlikely to change anyone's mind who had already picked a candidate.  Rather, both men were trying to convince undecided voters who usually make a decision on who to vote for in the two weeks before Election Day.

He was surprised by the points of agreement between the two men, though, including their opinions on Lyndy Wells re-entry into the race as a write-in candidate.

"This is a competition of ideas and he brought ideas to the table," Whipple said.  "However you have to respect the process."

"I think it's the first time that someone actually ran in the primary and lost and said, 'I don't care what the voters said in that primary.  I'm still going to run,'" Longwell said.

Election night is two weeks from Tuesday night.

  • NEWSNewsMore>>

  • Trump says Pompeo would easily win Senate seat in Kansas

    Trump says Pompeo would easily win Senate seat in Kansas

    Friday, November 22 2019 10:16 AM EST2019-11-22 15:16:35 GMT
    Friday, November 22 2019 12:26 PM EST2019-11-22 17:26:25 GMT
    (AP Photo/Francisco Seco). U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to journalists during a news conference during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.(AP Photo/Francisco Seco). U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to journalists during a news conference during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.
    (AP Photo/Francisco Seco). U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to journalists during a news conference during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.(AP Photo/Francisco Seco). U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to journalists during a news conference during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.
    President Donald Trump appears to be opening the door for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for an open Senate seat in his home state of Kansas.
    President Donald Trump appears to be opening the door for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for an open Senate seat in his home state of Kansas.
  • Winter weather: Multiple crashes across Kansas, including fatality

    Winter weather: Multiple crashes across Kansas, including fatality

    Fatal accident in near Medora in Reno County (Twitter/@TrooperBenKHP )Fatal accident in near Medora in Reno County (Twitter/@TrooperBenKHP )
    Fatal accident in near Medora in Reno County (Twitter/@TrooperBenKHP )Fatal accident in near Medora in Reno County (Twitter/@TrooperBenKHP )

    In Reno County, emergency dispatchers confirm one person has died in a crash near the K-61 and Medora exit. The crash happened around 7:40 Friday morning.

    In Reno County, emergency dispatchers confirm one person has died in a crash near the K-61 and Medora exit. The crash happened around 7:40 Friday morning.

  • Snow and ice creating slick roads

    Snow and ice creating slick roads

    Friday, November 22 2019 9:45 AM EST2019-11-22 14:45:40 GMT

    A large trough digging south across the Western United States will be responsible for rain and snow across KAKEland through Friday.  

    A large trough digging south across the Western United States will be responsible for rain and snow across KAKEland through Friday.  

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE