Wu, incumbent Whipple face off in Nov. 7 mayoral election in Wichita, Kansas

Lily Wu and incumbent Brandon Whipple are running in the Nov. 7 general election for mayor of Wichita, Kansas. Both advanced from a field of nine candidates in the city’s top two nonpartisan primary on Aug. 1.

Although the race is officially nonpartisan, Wu—a former Republican—is a Libertarian. Whipple is a Democrat who defeated incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell (R) in 2019.

Wu was a reporter and news anchor for two Wichita-area television stations for 12 years and also served as a board member for three Wichita-area nonprofit organizations. At her campaign announcement, she said: “Restoring trust in city hall really has to do with a change in leadership. I think what we need right now is a leader and an ambassador, like I mentioned, that helps bring back the trust (between residents and city representatives).”

Whipple was a Democratic state legislator from 2013 to 2020. He said Wichita’s most pressing issue was improving public safety: “As Mayor, we must continue to build a safer city. This includes rebuilding trust, investing in programs that address youth violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and embracing best practices for addressing mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness.”

The Wichita Eagle’s Chance Swaim and Matthew Kelly wrote that “Political newcomer Lily Wu emerged from the Wichita primary election as the early favorite for the November mayoral election. But Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said he’s confident he can win re-election…Going into the general election, Wu holds a sizable fundraising advantage over Whipple…That fundraising advantage and outside spending boost are expected to continue during the general election, which historically has about double the turnout of the primary and much higher spending levels by candidates and outside groups.”

The Sunflower‘s Mia Hennen reported that in the primary, “just over 15% of registered Wichita voters cast their ballots, with 41,221 ballots cast out of 268,852 registered voters.” In 2019, the number of votes cast in Wichita’s mayoral general election increased 116% over that cast in the primary. In 2015, the number of votes cast for mayor in the general election increased 92% over that cast in the primary.

The filing deadline for this election was June 1.

As of September 2023, Democrats hold 63 top-100 mayoral offices, Republicans hold 25, independents hold four, and nonpartisan mayors hold six. Two mayors’ partisan affiliations are unknown.

Wichita has a council-manager system of government where the elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city’s primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives.

Additional reading:

Mayoral election in Wichita, Kansas (August 1, 2023, primary election)

Partisanship in United States municipal elections (2023)