Voters Re-Elect Wichita City Council Incumbents

Nov 5, 2019

The make-up of Wichita City Council will remain the same as voters give three incumbents another term.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show Becky Tuttle, Jeff Blubaugh and Bryan Frye won their races.

The Sedgwick County Election Office says voter turnout was about 20 percent.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2

City council member Becky Tuttle
Credit Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Becky Tuttle has held her District 2 seat on city council for less than a year. She was appointed to the position after Pete Meitzner was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission.

She says that her first 11 months on the council were about listening and learning. Now with a voter mandate and more than 60 percent of the vote having gone in her favor, she said she's ready to take a more active role on council.

"Now I feel like I'm poised to be able to step up and to champion some projects as well," Tuttle said.

While campaigning, Tuttle touted her work on infrastructure and efforts to bring more police officers to the city next year.

Before representing District 2, Tuttle chaired the district's advisory board and is a former community development director for the Greater Wichita YMCA.

Tuttle says her history of serving the community gave her the edge on election night.

"I have served Wichita and people have seen that," Tuttle said. "Since day one, when I moved here 17 years ago, I have served this community."

Real estate broker and former state legislature Joseph Scapa ran against Tuttle with a campaign focusing on social issues. He spoke against a Wichita library event where a drag queen read to children last year. Abortion and protecting the Second Amendment were other issues he highlighted.

High school debate coach Rodney Wren also ran for the position. Wren is a former speechwriter for Mike Pompeo and highlighted criminal justice reform as a top issue. He also opposed the city and state providing incentives for specific businesses.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4

City council member Jeff Blubaugh
Credit Suzette Sponsel / KMUW

Jeff Blubaugh defeated two challengers to keep his seat representing District 4, the southwest corner of Wichita that stretches from Delano to near Goddard and Haysville.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s general election show Blubaugh received 58% of the vote. Beckie Jenek had 35% and Christopher Parisho finished with 7%.

“I appreciate the voters giving me an opportunity to serve four more years, and continue some of the things I’ve done in my district,” Blubaugh said while watching election returns with supporters at a Wichita restaurant.

This will be Blubaugh’s second term. He began public service in 2011 when he was elected to the Goddard School District’s Board of Education. In 2012, he was a Republican candidate for the Kansas House District 97 seat. He lost to the incumbent by fewer than 30 votes.

Two years later, he won the election to fill an unexpired term representing District 4 on Wichita City Council. He kept that seat in the 2015 election.

Blubaugh says he likes being involved in local government because he says he can “try to do things local to be able to move the needle.”

Blubaugh says his accomplishments while on city council include expanding the Rails to Trails program, updating Pawnee Prairie Park and improvements to the I-235 and Kellogg interchange.

“I’ve moved a lot of initiatives forward for my district, and I reached out and tried to be clear in my communications. I had a lot of support and felt pretty confident,” Blubaugh said.

Jenek spent the past 20 years working in accounting, human resources and operations management for several local companies. She has volunteered with nonprofits over the years.

Parisho is a professional photographer who serves in leadership roles for Delano neighborhood groups and is a member of a city advisory board.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5

City council member Bryan Frye
Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Bryan Frye easily won re-election for his second term on the council. He defeated political newcomer Mike Magness, winning nearly 70 percent of the vote.

District 5 covers much of west Wichita.

“Now is a very important time for our city,” Frye said Tuesday night. “And we need to get everyone involved, everyone at the table, and continue to make Wichita the most inviting city in the country.”

Frye won his first race for the seat in 2015 after serving eight years on the District 5 advisory board. He also spent eight years on the Wichita Board of Park Commissioners.

Frye says he wants to concentrate on infrastructure during his second term, specifically a new water treatment plant for Wichita. The city is in the process of planning a new $500 million plant in northwest Wichita.

“I think the community can be very comfortable with where we’re at on it and bottom line is that we’re going to build a new water treatment plant,” Frye said. “We’ve needed one for a long time, and we can start construction on it next year.”

Magness is a public high school teacher in Wichita. He said he ran because he didn’t want to see Frye run unopposed.

He positioned himself as a newcomer and an alternative to business as usual in politics.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.