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Government

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell Sworn Into Office

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City of Wichita
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The City of Wichita officially has a new mayor. Jeff Longwell was sworn in at Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting after soundly defeating advertising executive Sam Williams in the April 7 elections. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur has more…

It was an emotional day at City Hall, where Carl Brewer, reaching his term limit, stepped down after eight years as Wichita’s mayor.

“Thank you, everyone, for allowing me to serve you,” Brewer said to applause.

Stepping in is former District 5 City Council Member Jeff Longwell, who is sticking to the script he laid out during his mayoral campaign.

“I’ve said transit is so much more than just the transit dependent—it’s critically important to the vitality of this city,” Longwell said.

He didn’t get into specifics, but he noted in his speech the importance of transit, long-term drought protection, infrastructure improvements and job creation; all of which would have been funded through a sales tax defeated back in November.

As a city council member, Longwell voted against putting the sales tax referendum on ballots, saying the items shouldn’t have been bundled together.

Despite the defeat of the sales tax, Longwell said the city still needs to address those concerns, including a new approach to job creation.

“We want Wichita to be a place where worldwide, successful businesses can be built,” Longwell said. “And we know it can happen.”

Longwell said that Wichita is a special place for entrepreneurs.

“I'm pretty sure that people like (the Koch brothers) have enough money to live anywhere in the world, but they’ve chosen to invest in Wichita,” Longwell said. “And I’m one of those that is very happy about that.”

He also mentioned Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus, saying it would make a difference in growing Wichita’s economy, which lost roughly 20,000 jobs in the 2008 recession.

Also being sworn in on Tuesday were incumbent city council members Pete Meitzner and Jeff Blubaugh. Bryan Frye, who will replace Jeff Longwell as District 5’s city council representative, will also sworn in.