There are six people running for city elected office in Wellington, all of them, men. Three are running for mayor and three are running for a seat on city council.
The election will be Nov. 4. Current Mayor Shelley Hansel’s term will be up. The candidates for mayor are Jim Valentine, Noah Rinehart and Tom Henning. The candidates for city council are Robert Hamilton, Guy Leitch and Mike Westmoreland.
Valentine, 71, began serving on City Council in 2007, left after his term was up, but was elected back. He has lived in Wellington virtually all his life. His father ran a J.C. Penny store in town, and both his parents operated a shoe store, and as a youth, Valentine worked at the F.W. Woolworth store.
He spent seven years in the Army. He was in the 101st Airborne and the 69th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, then spent a few years in the Army Reserve.
Valentine has ran a barbershop in Wellington for 41 years. “We need to start running this city like a business, use the dollars wisely and use common sense instead of building bureaucracy.”
He wants the city to be frugal, to distinguish between wants and needs. If a vehicle needs to be purchased, he wants to use one of the Wellington dealerships, and he is not a fan of lease buying. He would like to see the city of Wellington have a city shop like it used to and make repairs in-house. He would like to bring a business to town that would employ 200 to 400 people.
“We need to do more to help people as a community,” he said “We need to do more to care about people. My intentions are to help the people of this community. We all have to work together.
“Wellington is my home, it’s my heart,” Valentine said.” They know that. If the people want me to have it (the mayor’s seat), I’ll have it. If they don’t I won’t, i can handle it.”
Tom Henning, 44, also has experience in elected office. He was elected mayor of his hometown, Geuda Springs when he was 20. He moved to Wellington around four years ago.
Now he runs his own business, Henning Machine Tool Repair and works on machines that make airplane parts. He regularly does work for Spirit, Cessna and smaller companies.
“This city needs to be ran like a business and not like government.” “There’s a lot of stuff that’s overlooked as far as micro-management of money.”
The city’s electric bills are too high, he said. “I’ve been fighting this for 10 or 15 years, longer than anybody else,” he said.
Henning has researched and compared Wellington’s electric bills to those in other cities and Wellington has higher rates, he said.
“The council is where it’s at, but maybe I can get some answers (as mayor) and try to get the council to reinstate the old style of billing," he said.
Noah Rinehart, 20, is the youngest person seeking the mayor’s position.
Rinehart was on the Wellington High School debate team all four years of high school and is now taking public speaking classes at the Cowley College Mulvane campus part-time. He works full-time at GKN Aerospace in Wellington.
“I want to ignite some change in the community that will benefit Wellington,” he said. “I’m working from the middle class for the middle class.”
Rinehart has lived in Wellington since he was in grade school and said he loves the city.
He tries to think positively and the best in situations, he said. “The bad, it outweighs the good for some people,” he said. “I’d like to change that -- open their spectrum.”
City Council candidates
Robert Hamilton, 35, is also running for City Council. “I’ve always been interested in city politics,” he said. He ran for City Council in 2016 when there were 15 people running.
“I’m only 35. I’m looking for the next generation to get involved.”
Hamilton is chief engineer for Hampton Inn Suites in Wichita, but prefers to live in his hometown of Wellington. He has worked in hospitality for 20 years.
“Each individual issue tends to have its own in-depth conversation,” he said. “I like the idea of balance and I like the idea of cutting down spending.
He is interested in “saving and getting back to a stable condition.”
Guy Leitch, 65, is a retired Navy builder and construction supervisor for government contracts out of Kansas City, Missouri.
“I don’t have any big hot burning issues,” Leitch said. “I just think since i’ve been in town, i’ve seen things that i don’t like. I could complain and moan, but if you want to make a difference you’ve got to step up.”
Mike Westmoreland, 48, is a captain with the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office. He also serves on Sumner County Community Drug Action Team (SCCDAT). He said he was tired of people going on Facebook, complaining about the city and not offering any solutions.
“Instead of being a problem I want to be part of the solution,” Westmoreland said.