Political Science Club holds forum for Wichita Mayoral candidates

If there’s one thing Wichita mayoral candidates Jeff Longwell and Sam Williams can agree on, it’s that reaching college students during an election is vital.

They both said talking to college students helps gets student voices in elections. That’s why they came to Wichita State Friday afternoon, they said. Longwell and Williams spoke at a mayoral forum put on by WSU’s Political Science Club.

Junior TC Edwards, president of the club, said the forum was a chance to talk about local politics.

About 30 students, faculty and staff attended. Edwards said he was happy with the turnout and with what the candidates had to say.

“Both candidates knew what they were speaking about, they were well-informed,” he said. “It was good to have them both here in person.”

Reaching college students

Both Longwell and Williams said it was important for them to speak to college students.

Williams said Wichita is the people’s city, not his, and college students are part of that ownership.

“This isn’t about me,” Williams said. “This is about me asking [college students] to help me make this city where you can get a job, where you can live and where you can raise your family.[WSU] is right smack in the center of everything we need to do.”

Longwell said it is important to keep young people in Wichita, and to do that, they have to be reached by elected officials.

“People are looking for a place to live and then they worry about a job,” he said. “I believe we have to address those issues many of our young folks want to see today.”

George Dehner, associate professor of history, said the voting rate for college students is much lower than other age brackets, especially in local elections. Dehner stressed that politicians need to pay attention to college students.

“Students have real concerns that are not being addressed and so they need to be active, not only in the direct form of voting,” Dehner said, “but being active in politics and taking an interest in these types of events.”

Innovation Campus

Longwell and Williams also agreed that WSU President John Bardo’s plan for Innovation Campus will do great things for Wichita, including boosting the economy.

Longwell said Innovation Campus is a critical component to fundamentally changing the way jobs are grown in the community. He said he has been telling people for several months that the way to grow jobs in Wichita is to get behind Innovation Campus, and tie that with the blueprint for regional economic growth. The regional economic growth is a clusters plan that looks at diversifying the job market in Wichita.

Longwell said he wants to combine those two elements with the export plan.

“We’re not inventing new markets, we’re showing people where they can take their product and sell it around the world that already exists,” Longwell said.

Longwell added that Innovation Campus will help boost Wichita’s economy. He said it will help young people stay in Wichita.

“It’s going to give us one more opportunity to keep some bright, young people in Wichita because of their ability to find an opportunity in almost a research-like facility that will enable them to continue their education,” he said, “plus work on some innovation things that can change our economy.”

Williams described Innovation Campus as a catalyst to kick off reinventing entrepreneurship in Wichita. He said the buildings planned and companies being relocated are all well and good, but at the end of the day, Innovation Campus is a job creator.

“What really is important is we’re talking about job creation and new business creation right here in Wichita,” Williams said. “And businesses will grow, and they’ll stay here. That’s what’s exciting about Innovation Campus.”


Election day for Wichita’s mayoral race is Tuesday. Polls in Sedgwick County will open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters are required to take a valid government-issued photo ID to the polls.

Voting takes placed at assigned polling places. To find the right site, check voter cards or visit http://myvoteinfo.voteks.org.

Questions about where to vote or calls about voting problems can be directed to the Sedgwick County election office at 660-7100.

The Sunflower will have coverage of the mayoral elections in Wednesday’s issue, as well as online at thesunflower.com and on Facebook and Twitter.