Meet the mayor

Written by Sara Garrison | Photography by Madison Ham

Get to know Jeff Longwell

Jeff Longwell was elected mayor of Wichita in April, but the Wichita native and devoted family man began his journey into public service more than 30 years ago.

Longwell attended Wichita West High School and Wichita State University. He initially began his career working for the family gas station and garage. Then in the mid-1980s a friend convinced him to start working for Thermal Trade Graphics, a corporation that during his tenure grew from five to 85 employees. The company created vinyl graphics that were used across the country on trucks, trains and were even showcased on arena floors during NBA playoff games. Today Longwell owns Ad Astra Print Resources.

While working at Thermal Trade Graphics, Longwell developed a close relationship with owner Roger Bowles. It was Bowles who inspired Longwell to get involved in the community.

“Roger is very civic-minded,” Longwell explains. “While I was working with Roger, he explained it is the duty of a successful company to become involved with the community in any way possible. To this day, I have breakfast with Roger once a week. He is a wonderful mentor.”

Bowles encouraged Longwell to run for an opening on the Maize school board. Longwell served 12 years in that capacity. Through this involvement, he built relationships with a lot of community leaders who encouraged him to run for city council in 2007. Longwell served as a member of the Wichita City Council from 2007 through 2015.

Mayor Longwell also serves as a charter member of the Sunrise Rotary Club and as a board member for the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. He and his wife, Susie, are involved with St. Francis of Assisi Parish, where he serves as a church usher.

“If you want to get involved, Wichita is a wonderful city where you can get involved. Wichita is whatever you want it to be.” — Mayor Jeff Longwell

“I had no expectations to become an elected official as a youth. I feel so blessed to be in the position I am to make a difference in our city,” Longwell says. “Wichita is such a wonderful city, and I am honored to help guide Wichita into whatever we dream it could be.”

In addition to his public work, Longwell is devoted to his family. He and Susie have three children and one granddaughter.

Susie and their daughter, Angela, both work as special education paraeducators for the Goddard Special Education Co-op. His son Ryan is an aerospace engineer for the National Institute for Aviation Research, and his son Bryan is a geologist who plans to become a science teacher.

Additionally, Longwell adores spending time with his 5-year-old granddaughter, Marissa Kate. Longwell says Marissa is so proud that “her Papa” is mayor.

“I tell people all of the time: When your kids are doing well—life is great,” Longwell says.

During his term as mayor of Wichita, Longwell plans to continue improving the community through government accountability, accessibility and transparency; economic development and job creation; strategic regional partnerships; quality of life issues; a strong infrastructure; and public transit.

“My top priority is to work on is public transit. Public transit is so important to health of our community and critically important to economic development and tourism,” Longwell says. “Public transit is important to keeping young talent in Wichita and to promote growth, so it is critical that we do it now. Additionally, it is important that we fix our aging streets in neighborhoods.” Regarding government accessibility and community, Longwell explains: “It is important to continually improve on communication. As public officials, we can take it for granted that the public might know something. The better we can communicate in multiple different ways, the better off our community will be.”

The city of Wichita currently has a population of 382,368 people and is a three-time National Civic Award All-American City award winner.

“I love to brag about our city. Wichita is truly a gem of a city,” Longwell says. “Wichita has so much to offer and great things to do. Wichita is a great big little city. The city has wonderful amenities that you normally only find within cities much larger than Wichita. We have a wide variety of performing arts like the opera and Music Theatre Wichita along with a small-town feel that makes you feel compelled to wave at the person who is driving the other direction down the street. You can’t find that environment in many other cities.”

 
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