Booker prioritizing transportation in his campaign for mayor

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Booker prioritizing transportation in his campaign for mayor

Brock Booker wants to focus on transportation if elected mayor of Wichita.

Brock Booker wants to focus on transportation if elected mayor of Wichita.

Audrey Korte

Brock Booker wants to focus on transportation if elected mayor of Wichita.

Audrey Korte

Audrey Korte

Brock Booker wants to focus on transportation if elected mayor of Wichita.

Brock Booker, 29, is a newcomer on the Wichita political scene. 

Though he has not previously run for public office, he said he’s been preparing for it for many years. 

“I just didn’t wake up one day and just get this political buzz,” Booker said. “I’m running to improve services and the overall quality of life for the vast majority of Wichitans.”

Booker was born in Joplin, Missouri but grew up in Parsons, Kansas. Booker graduated from Parsons High School in 2007 and attended Labette Community College after high school, where he majored in voice performance. 

He calls himself a Friends’ alum but said he has not yet graduated. 

Booker said he plans to return to the university to finish his bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a minor in music and drama in the coming year or two. 

Now a sales professional, Booker said he played an active role in student government in high school and at Friends University. 

Parsons Mayor Lewis Smith appointed Booker to a city board called the Arts and Humanities Council in 2006, while Booker was still in high school. 

“I’ve worked on political campaigns over the years and had an interest in policy, politics, law,” Booker said. 

Booker said he worked on Raj Goyle’s campaign when Goyle ran for the fourth congressional district. 

Booker also worked on campaigns for Jim Slattery and former Congresswoman Nancy Boyda who recently announced she will run as a Democrat in 2020 for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

“I’ve also worked with the county Democrats and done some work for the county Republicans. So I really am trying to send out a unifying message, we’ve got to come together,” he said.

As for his politics, Booker said he is a Democrat, but he hopes to be able to unite Democrats and Republicans through his work. It’s one of the things he’s adamant about. 

“I call myself the nonpartisan songbird. I believe in the ideal that is America and there’s not two parties really, that’s just something that – it’s a sport that people have wanted this thing to become,” he said. “As an artist, I just see one America.”

“I do consider myself as a progressive. But I’m a restrained, conservative, progressive,” he said.

If elected mayor, Booker said transit is the most prominent issue he would commit to addressing. 

“I want to take money out of city reserves, to do a pilot program for six months to a year to see if there’s a market for buses on Sundays,” Booker said. “And do a total review of the transit system.”

He also said he wants to increase the Q-Line services. 

Another priority is safe and affordable low and middle-income housing and housing for the homeless, he said.

“It’s good to build up downtown. But you cannot leave all other areas of the city out of scope, because then it becomes taxation without representation,” he said.

All in the family 

Booker said he’s had a couple of mayors in his family. 

His uncle Marvin McKnight was the first black elected official in Parsons, Kansas. Officials at Parsons City Hall said that McKnight was the city commissioner from 1991 – 2001 and during that time, he rotated in as the mayor of Parsons. 

Booker said his uncle, a Navy man, set an example for him with his demeanor and bipartisan sensibility. 

“[McKnight] worked across party lines, and racial lines working for the common good,” he said. “He was always calm, cool, collected, and was very solution-oriented.

Since leaving Friends, Booker said he’s been serving on the racial profiling board, working with The Wichita Independent Neighborhood Association and Fairmount GoZones, which was the outreach ministry at his former church — Fairmount United Church of Christ.

Booker also acted as the choir and musical director at Fairmount United Church of Christ for two and a half years.