Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brewer, Harding and the African American vote

Since city council member Carl Brewer announced his run for mayor, many have asked Barely Eagle if he would be the city's first African American mayor. He would not. A. Price Woodward Jr. (see photo on the left) was a city commission member from 1967 to 1970 and mayor from 1970 to 1971.

But Brewer would be the first African American elected by citywide vote -- like Carlos Mayans was the first Hispanic elected by popular vote. The historic possibility could galvanize African American voters more than in previous city elections, Ken Ciboski, a political science professor at Wichita State University told Barely Eagle.

"Poor African Americans who often do not vote will vote," Ciboski said. "I think people see a possibility for him to pay attention to their needs and their concerns. They see this as an opportunity to be recognized and have their voices heard." And, Ciboski said, if the city at large again has low turn out in April, a strong showing in the African American community could make it easier for Kevass Harding, an African American, to beat Karl Peterjohn in the race for at-large school board. As a total, African Americans make up 11 percent of the city's population, according to 2005 Census estimates.

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