Competitive Wichita city council race shapes up ahead of primary election

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WICHITA, Kan. Some Wichita voters say there are big issues facing their community and they want anyone eligible to vote in upcoming elections to do so.

Ahead of Tuesday's primary election to narrow down candidates to represent parts of central and eastern Wichita in the city council's first district, voters say one key issue for them is the food desert left after the Walmart neighborhood market at 13th and Oliver shut down.

Among the concerned voters in District 1 is Johnny Benford who has lived in the district for his entire life. He says he wants to see someone in office who wants to help his community.

"Lately, it's been a pretty good community to live in," Benford says.

There are four candidates in District 1, running to replace current Wichita City Councilwoman Lavonta Williams, who is term-limited.

The candidates are Brandon Johnson, Michael Kinard, John Stevens and Janet Wilson. All are well-known community activists.

Benford says the closure of the neighborhood market is an issue in his district because many people don't have transportation of their own available to get to the next closest place to buy their groceries.

District 1 resident Jerry Simpson says the next closest grocery stores are so far from his house that often, his food doesn't make it home in the condition that it should.

"If you buy frozen goods, waiting on the bus, it wouldn't be any good by the time you take it home," he says. "It would all be melted."

Ahead of Tuesday's Primary, the Sedgwick County Elections Office says fewer than 500 people have voted so far.

District 1 resident Mable Hicks says elections are important to her because they give chances for people to make their voices heard.

"If you don't participate, don't be surprised on what you get," she says. "You have to put your two cents worth in. If you don't, it doesn't matter."

The top two vote getters in Tuesday's Primary advance to the Nov. 7 general election.