Lyndon ‘Lyndy’ Wells announces write-in campaign for Wichita mayoral race


Daniel Caudill

Lyndon “Lyndy” Wells announces his write-in candidacy on Thursday for the Nov. 5 mayoral election in front of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse. The former banker and chair of the WSU Tech Industry Advisory Board was urged to run by Kansas Regent Jon Rolph and former mayors Bob Knight and Carl Brewer.

BREAKING: Lyndon “Lyndy” Wells, chair of the WSU Tech Industry Advisory Board, announced on Thursday his plans to launch a write-in campaign for the Nov. 5 mayoral election.

Candidates on the ballot are Mayor Jeff Longwell and challenger state Rep. Brandon Whipple.

“We’ve got a breach in trust in our community,” Wells said in front of the Historic Sedgwick County Courthouse. “And we have a current leader who has made decisions independent of the will of the people, and we think it’s important that we challenge that a little bit.”

The former banker finished third in the Aug. 6 mayoral primary — just 297 votes behind second-place Whipple.

“I was not successful in the primary and I accepted those results,” Wells said. “In fact, I put all my yard signs that I collected into a recycle bin with every intention of not having to use them.”

But after Kansas Regent Jon Rolph and former Mayors Bob Knight and Carl Brewer launched a recruitment effort encouraging him to re-enter, Wells had a change of heart. That recruitment effort included $9,000 in advertising across local Wichita stations, a website and a Facebook page.

Rolph, also president and CEO of Thrive Restaurant Group, said he was compelled to launch the write-in effort after an Eagle investigation said Longwell steered the city’s contract for a new water treatment plant toward friends.

“I have just been appalled, like a lot of people, with … the decisions around our water,” Rolph said. “And even more disturbed by [Longwell’s] apathetic response to the assertion that he has damaged public trust.”

Longwell has maintained his conduct was not out-of-line with the responsibilities of the mayor. He could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Wells’ announcement to go ahead with the write-in campaign comes after early ballots were sent out Wednesday.

Proponents say Wells gives an alternative for the people of Wichita, while detractors say he could split the opposition and guarantee Longwell’s reelection.

Asked if he felt his write-in campaign would contribute to Longwell’s reelection, Wells said he felt like he was providing a legitimate third choice.

“The support that I’ve received suggests that there were a lot of people that weren’t going to vote at all because they couldn’t make a decision,” Wells said. “My effort here is really to give the voters an opportunity to consider another option that they may not have had otherwise.”

“And I have every confidence that we can be successful, but I also understand that I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

In the lead-up to the primary election, Wells campaigned on his leadership experience, including with INTRUST Bank. A week before the primary, Wells misused WSU and WSU Tech logos in a campaign mailer.

Wells said at his announcement that he doesn’t feel Whipple — a longtime legislator in the Kansas House — has the proper leadership experience to lead the city through the next few years of decision-making.

“I believe that [Whipple] doesn’t have a rich enough set of experiences to pull from to lead us through the complex problems that are in front of us,” Rolph said.

Whipple responded to the potential write-in campaign last week in an email to The Sunflower.

“Wichita needs a mayor with real governing experience who is ready on day one to take on the job of restoring trust in City Hall, prioritizing public safety, and accelerating our economic momentum,” he said. “The voters already have a clear choice this November.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.