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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Mayoral candidate aims to mend relationship between police and mayor, change leadership

Nithin Reddy Nagapur
Jared Cerullo speaks at a mayoral candidate forum held on July 17. The forum was hosted by The Wichita Beacon.

If elected as mayor, Jared Cerullo plans to continue his role as a “watchdog” for the city of Wichita — a role he’s said he’s had throughout his career.

A lifelong Wichita resident, Cerullo has worked as a journalist since graduating from high school. He’s worked for KFDI Radio, KAKE, and now for the Virtual News Center as a news anchor and reporter. The candidate also attended Wichita State for a period of time, studying administration of justice.

“I’ve worked as a journalist, a news reporter, broadcaster (for) my entire career,” Cerullo said. “Because of that, I’ve been close to county commissions, school boards and city councils and their inner workings.” 

Cerullo said that due to his proximity to local government, he’s been able to uncover corruption.

“Unfortunately, we get politicians in their seats who aren’t necessarily above board,” he said.

In addition to his career as a journalist, Cerullo also served briefly on the Wichita City Council in 2021, representing District 3. Cerullo, a Republican, lost the seat by 91 votes to Democrat Mike Hoheisel.

Cerullo said that during his several months as a council member, he was proud to get two projects passed, the Clapp Park redevelopment plan and a land buy for the Wichita Police Patrol East substation. Cerullo said he did this, despite “no help whatsoever from the mayor.” 

“When I joined the council in 2021, I saw it as an opportunity to work with the mayor (Brandon Whipple) … to fix some of the problems that are going in south Wichita,” Cerullo said. “But I got no cooperation whatsoever.”

Cerullo has been an outspoken critic of Whipple, who is running for reelection

“(Whipple) has destroyed the relationship between the mayor’s office and the police department,” Cerullo said. “I’m a strong supporter of public safety. I believe if we don’t have public safety, we don’t have a city.”

Cerullo said that he thinks there is a broken culture in the Wichita Police Department, referencing recent text message scandals. He said this is all the more reason to fix problems instead of being “anti-police.”

“I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of Wichita police officers, and they do not trust our mayor,” Cerullo said. “He’s clearly shown to be anti-police.”

Cerullo said repairing the relationship between the mayor’s office and the police department will be one of his “day one” priorities.

“The second big priority is we not only need change in leadership style in the mayor’s office, but we also need change in the city manager’s office,” Cerullo said. “I believe it’s time for a fresh face with fresh ideas.”

Cerullo noted Bob Layton, Wichita city manager, who has been in the role for 14 years.

“The average tenure for a manager for a city our size is six to seven years,” Cerullo said. “It’s just time to move on and look for a new person to fill that city manager role who’s not afraid to take risks, who’s not afraid to think outside of the box.”

Cerullo also said he wants to stop “taxpayer giveaways,” like the $10.2 million public subsidy package to build a Topgolf facility.

“I believe our city is facing a significant crisis in 2025 (regarding) funding,” Cerullo said. “Nobody at city hall right now wants to talk about it, and it’s going to take a leader that’s going to be innovative and bold and not be afraid to make some very tough decisions.”

Campaign efforts

According to The Beacon, there are two ways to run for mayor. The first way is to submit “a $20 filing fee and then a $50 candidate report.” The other way requires an individual to submit a petition with “100 valid signatures from registered voters in your district,” as well as paying a $50 candidate reporting filing fee.

Wanting to meet people “on the ground,” Cerullo said he did it the “hard way.”

“I wanted to meet people where they are: in their homes, in their churches, at their neighborhood groups, at their community meetings,” he said. “I don’t think our candidates in these local races are doing that.”

Cerullo said that through going door-to-door and meeting with people, he’s heard that people are “upset.”

“They’re upset that our city is falling behind,” he said. “Wichita is falling behind (other cities) in job development, business growth, population … We’ve got to figure out why that problem continues to persist.”

If elected, Cerullo said while he doesn’t have a set solution, one possibility may be decreasing each department’s budget in city hall by 5%.

David Doolittle, a friend of Cerullo, said that the mayoral candidate is “dependable.”

“If he says he’s going to do something, he’ll make every effort to do it,” Doolittle said. “Jared is a person who researches his positions … He does not simply fall by groups of other people. He’s very independent.”

Regardless of if he is elected as mayor, Cerullo said he plans to be a representative of the people. 

“It’s a matter of not being so divisive, but working with people of all backgrounds,” he said. “We’re not going to agree on everything … That doesn’t mean we can’t be good listeners and be inclusive of all thought processes.”

Cerullo is one of eight mayoral candidates. According to KMUW, Shelia Davis, Bryan Frye, Julie Rose Stroud, Tom Kane, Celeste Racette, Brandon Whipple and Lily Wu are running in the Aug. 1 primary.

Mayoral elections are on Nov. 7. To find more information on Cerullo, visit his Facebook or his Ballotpedia page.

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About the Contributors
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Copy Editor
Mia Hennen is the copy editor for The Sunflower. Most recently, Hennen served as editor-in-chief for the 2023-2024 year. A senior English major, Hennen will graduate in May 2025 and hopes to pursue a career in journalism.
Nithin Reddy Nagapur
Nithin Reddy Nagapur, Former photographer
Nithin Reddy Nagapur was a photographer for The Sunflower. Nagapur graduated in Fall 2023.

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