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Two political newcomers shake up 2021 City Council elections

Maggie Ballard with her son Paxton, and mother in the background, after the race was called.
Kylie Cameron
Maggie Ballard with her son Paxton, and mother in the background, after the race was called.

Maggie Ballard and Brandon Johnson win their respective races, while Mike Hoheisel leads his by a narrow margin.

Political newcomer Maggie Ballard defeated incumbent Cindy Claycomb on Tuesday to win the Wichita City Council District 6 seat.

Ballard held a steady lead throughout the night and wound up with 54% of the vote.

“I think that I’m just a normal person that cares about our community, and I think I’ve been doing a lot of this work for a long time without all of the celebrations that come along with this seat,” she said. “I’m just excited to represent our whole district and not just little pieces of it.”

According to recent campaign finance reports, Claycomb had four times as much money available to her campaign than her opponents. During the July through October reporting period, Claycomb had $141,000 on hand –the most raised by any city council candidate in recent elections

Ballard had more than $34,000 available during that same period – the second-most amount of cash available among all six City Council candidates.

“It’s a little intimidating to everybody – it would be to anybody,” Ballard said. “Especially, you know, $100,000 in the last month and I’ve spent $16,000.

“But I’ve been out there actually doing the work instead of paying other people to do it.”

District 6 includes parts of downtown, Delano, Riverside and North Wichita.

Another political newcomer, Mike Hoheisel, led incumbent City Council member Jared Cerullo by less than 100 votes in the race for District 3, according to unofficial final results.

Hoheisel said he thinks that he’ll hold on to that lead.

“I’m confident about it,” he said. “I think we just had a great ground game and think most of the mail ballots that come in will be for my team.”

If he wins, Hoheisel said his two priorities on the bench would be to help solve mental health and substance abuse issues in the city and to increase transparency on the council.

“The 3rd District is ready to get serious about mental health issues and addiction treatment,” he said.

“Because these are the issues that are tearing our families apart right now, and from a lot of people’s point of views that’s priority number one is keeping our families together and keeping our loved ones on the straight path to where they’re able to have a functioning life.”

Cerullo was appointed to the council in March after James Clendenin resigned following a scandal tied to the 2019 mayoral election.

District 3 covers south-central Wichita.

Ballard and Hoheisel, both first-time candidates,alsowon their respective primaries in August.

Incumbent District 1 City Council member Brandon Johnson won his reelection campaign with 78% of the vote.

Johnson was first elected to the city council in 2017, making this his second full-term.

Supporters of Ballard and Hoheisel said their leads gets them closer to a millennial majority on the Wichita city council.

About 15% of registered voters turned out for the election.

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.