Lily Wu to become first Asian American mayor of Wichita, defeats current mayor
In her victory speech, Wu pledged to “restore” public safety, focus on economic development and address inflation.
Political newcomer Lily Wu has ousted current Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple and will become the city’s first Asian-American mayor.
Unofficial results show Wu received 58% of the vote over Whipple’s 42%.
In her victory speech, she pledged to “restore” public safety, focus on economic development and address inflation.
“I'll work to make Wichita the best city to start and grow a business, and serve as a vocal and visible ambassador for our city, encouraging new investment and opportunities for businesses,” Wu said.
While the races are nonpartisan, Wu’s victory is likely to have an impact on the political makeup of the council. Wu is a registered Libertarian and received campaign contributions from several prominent Republicans, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s wife and their political action committee.
Currently, the council holds a liberal majority, but Wu’s election and Republicans holding on to three council seats will likely make the council more conservative.
Whipple left his election night watch party early, saying he had to put his three kids to sleep. But he thanked supporters before he departed.
“It doesn’t look great right now,” he said when the second batch of unofficial results came in after 8 p.m.
“It’s not due to folks not working hard.”
Whipple was elected to the office in 2019, ousting incumbent Jeff Longwell. Whipple previously served in the Kansas Legislature as a Democrat representing south Wichita.
Wu raised a record amount of money for the mayor’s race, more than $400,000, since the beginning of the year.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political action group that receives funding from the Koch family, contributed more than $120,000 to help Wu’s campaign leading into the general election.
In a statement, AFP-Kansas President Elizabeth Patton congratulated Wu on her victory.
“We’re thrilled that a candidate who understands cutting the red tape on regulations and balancing the budget will help our state’s economy and fight inflation.”
Whipple’s re-election campaign fell far behind Wu’s fundraising numbers, bringing in more than $100,000.
At her watch party, Wu thanked the current mayor for his service.
“I wish him and his family the very best in the future,” she said to supporters.
The mayor serves a four-year term and has one vote, the same as the six members of the City Council. The mayor chairs the weekly council meetings and earns just more than $100,000 a year.
The mayor and newly-elected city council members will be sworn-in in January.
Turnout this year was higher than the last municipal elections in 2019. More than 77,000 ballots were cast, a 23% turnout compared to 20% in 2019.