Hannah Naeger is a local dentist and is now taking the next step in her community involvement by running to represent District 6 on the Topeka City Council. She returned to Topeka and invested directly in the community by becoming a homeowner in the sixth District and a small business owner with the purchase of Shunga Family Dental Care. Living in other cities put into perspective the value of growing up with the supportive environment of Topeka. She has a renewed pride in her hometown.
Hannah graduated from Topeka High School in 2008. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry in 2012 from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., then a doctorate of dental surgery in 2017 from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry in Oklahoma City.
Born and raised in Topeka, Hannah has a long history of involvement in the community. She is a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church, danced with both Ballet Midwest and Metropolitan Ballet, and graduated from Topeka High School. Since her return to Topeka, Hannah has spent time knocking on doors to promote neighborhood events, was a graduating member of the 2018 Leadership Greater Topeka class, and served on the board of the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC). She is part of the FUMC’s mission team, and enjoys singing with both her church choir and Shawnee Choral Society.
I believe there are useful ways to use tax dollars to support private economic development. However, there need to be ways in which to safeguard the city from taking on private investment failures. Conditions placed by tools like TIFs and CIDs protect the city budget and obligations to the citizens by using tax revenue specifically by these established districts to improve the area.
According to an annual point-in-time survey, the number of recorded homeless in Topeka increased by 5.5% in 2018 to 441. We must implement new programs and support current programs to help create stable environments for our most vulnerable citizens. At the beginning of 2019, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services pushed for expanding the Housing First program in Kansas. In February, the Capital-Journal reported more than a dozen people received vouchers for housing in partnership with Shelter Plus Care.
This is a solid start. However, we must invest further in programs like Housing First, as well as making commitments like Impact Avenues through the Topeka Community Foundation and a housing trust fund further supported by the Council as of July 20, to secure housing. In my own research, I have found other programs, like Albuquerque, NM’s There’s a Better Way program, that would bring together existing organizations and opportunities to support the homeless.
Two parties are essential for maintaining safe neighborhoods: law enforcement and civilians. I had the opportunity to attend a District 6 meeting with the TPD and Strengthening Police and Community Partnership. The SPCP and TPD have organized a variety of events to reach out to citizens, including council district meetings and Coffee with a Cop.
It is imperative that we follow these first steps with meaningful discussion and action. So many of us only reach out to emergency services when we are in the greatest distress. To combat this negativity, it is important to consistently work on this relationship. I support the actions being taken by the TPD to integrate into our community. Officers educating citizens on how to protect themselves, homeowners working alongside the TPD with home security video, and more can empower both the police and the city they protect.
I want people to participate in the upcoming US Census to ensure we attain the appropriate representation and funding our community needs. I plan to attend NIAs throughout the district to help clarify the intent and use of the Census, as well as ensure that those who fill it out are not at risk of losing their livelihoods. Although the Census does not fall directly under the designated purpose of the City Council, it will be my duty as a government representative to ensure we secure proportionate representation and funding.
I will reach out to constituents through a variety of platforms, speaking plainly and avoiding jargon to get them the information they need and request. I plan to be accessible through diverse social media platforms to engage more tech-savvy citizens, as well as set aside time to meet with community members who prefer face-to-face contact. I will also continue to advocate for the live streaming of council meetings, as this allows not only for a larger audience to take part in discussion but also provides a video record of the meetings. As a City Council member, I plan to serve the community. The only way to do that well is to have open lines of communication.
I am a raised Topekan, who grew up involved in this community. I am pursuing a degree in Political Science, have received corporate management training, and serve on the boards of two local non-profits, the Capital City Equality Center and Hope Through Headphones. I worked on the Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships council and have committed to serving this community further.
Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science -- In Progress at Washburn University
I support the use of tax dollars being used for economic development. However, I only support that use if the economic development is being done for the betterment of the health of the entire city and the city’s economy. The current implementation of TIFs and CIDs has been anything but cognizant of the very real issues with the Topeka economic balance. Topeka’s economy is skewed towards the southwest. By localizing the economic development of the city to a certain geography, we hurt the health of the city. When economic development vanishes from areas we see negative impacts. Economic development should have conditions that require property maintenance, good corporate citizenship, affordable housing and public infrastructure access. Without a conscious, deliberate effort to utilize incentives in a way that creates equity in the city it doesn’t matter how much money we spend, the economic development of the west side will fail. This is necessary to justify tax dollar funded incentives.
In order to address the issue of homelessness and affordable housing in the community we have to address the root causes of those situations. We need to prioritize our mental health support structures and incentivize the development of entry level, affordable housing. By encouraging the construction of market rate housing, we can immediately improve the housing market for low- and middle- income populations. One of the other ways I will seek to increase the supply of adequate affordable housing is to work with other Kansas Municipalities to lobby the state government to create an arbitration process modeled after the Nevada Foreclosure Arbitration program. By working with the state we can hold banks accountable for their vacant properties. This combined with an affordable housing incentive and the recently approved Affordable Housing Trust fund creates an environment that fosters affordable housing in a competitive way, forcing those who provide it to maintain it at an adequate level.
Transparency. The only way to build trust between the public and the TPD is through transparent, open communication. The Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships program that was undertaken is a huge step in that direction. I had the privilege to serve on that council, and I was given a large insight into the trainings and changes that have been implemented since the Dominique White incident occurred. The TPD has thoroughly committed to improving since then, and has made significant progress. Further changes that I believe should and could be made are the creation of an integrated estimated call response time system that informs individuals of their place in the call queue. Community crime summits being promoted more actively and consistently than the current traveling SPCP council meetings, and the cooperation with other departments to find ways that other departments have developed good, transparent, community based policing.
I believe the standard methods do very well for achieving responses from those who feel comfortable reporting information to the government and have a physical address. For the rest of the community, including undocumented citizens and homeless individuals, those methodologies don’t work. I will seek to find non-profit organizations that can remain impartial and work to collect the census data required from those who are disenfranchised or unable to work with the established methodology.
An increase of town halls and citizen response is the first and foremost way. I firmly believe in being a representative of the people, and without engaging with the citizens of the city in a consistent way, that’s not possible. By acting as an ambassador for the city to the public, and vice versa, I intend to be a conduit for transparency. I also plan to schedule quarterly town halls within District 6 to have those conversations with the public. I also plan to work with each city department closely to determine what needs they have in order to more effectively communicate and be transparent with citizens and to help them provide more streamlined communication with the public.
Extensive experience and professional background in Banking; Business; Entrepreneurialism; Transportation & Economic Development.
College+ educated with a degree in Business & Management with minors in speech and marketing. Extended education in Commercial Banking; Executive Management; Public Speaking; Entrepreneurialism; Consulting; Lobbying at the Local, State and National levels and Transportation management.
I have been a board member and chaired numerous non-profit boards: In Topeka I have been on the board of TMTA (Topeka Metropolitan Transportation Authority) and the KBA (Kansas Ballet Academy) as the first Board Chair. I work with numerous Neighborhood Associations. One of my past community highlights, I was Instrumental in building the "Ronald McDonald" House in Oklahoma City for the patients of the Children's Hospital.
Tax dollars if used correctly can be a great tool for economic revenue generation and job creation for Topeka/Shawnee County which in turn support the development of our communities quality of life/place goals. This subject has deep roots for discussion so my answer to "conditions" will be surface only. First: The organization we have in place to manage these tax dollars "JEDO (Joint Economic Development Organization)" must be reorganized from top to bottom (see Garner Report). Next: we must have an effective and clear definition of what we mean by "Economic Development" then implement a plan to successfully achieve those goals. Once we have done these two things then you can focus on how to use/spend the tax dollars in this program which would entail how you structure any conditions on the use of this money. Bottom line: whatever we do with these tax dollars they must positively impact the community as a whole.
First we must acknowledge we have a problem; what that problem is and what tools we currently have as a community to address this subject compared to what we need the make the appropriate changes necessary so we can be effective in providing these dedicated services to the issues of both homelessness and affordable housing. As with anything of this nature you need adequate funding and effective leadership to implement these type of programs successfully. Affordable Housing is a broad based issue that includes (*) Tenant-Landlord issues and the local laws/rules for same (which need work); City Code Enforcement, local laws & ordinances and administration of same (which need work); An effective housing/funding arm of the City/County structure to actively and aggressively implement good policy of oversight of this aspect of our community from administration, building, servicing the needs of the community in this area.
Work closely with our law enforcement and make sure they have the funding and tools they need to effectively police and protect our community. Extend respect for the officers and work diligently with the community to also support and respect what our law enforcement officers are doing. I do believe there are other programs we should/could do to assist with making Topeka safer i.e. Create what is called "Cop Shops" (putting field offices and police officers into the community for access and responsiveness); Implement a national program called "Weed & Seed" to assist in the clean-up of crime and potential criminal problems; Implement a program called "COPS", citizens on patrol where you put a COPS sign on cabs, buses etc. as safety zones if you need help and also that become additional eyes on the community. Make sure we have an effective recruiting program and support those initiatives so we have a full compliment of officers working our streets.
Support the law and related rules for taking the 2020 census and implement in an effective manner.
First, there needs to be more respect and appreciation expressed to the citizens by government so the public feels they have a voice and will speak up at community and City Council meetings. That the publics voice and concerns and/or input is appreciated, respected and welcome. I believe in it's own way our local government is trying much harder this year to be as transparent as it can. The key is communication and how you communicate. The more effective the communication the higher level of clarity to the public to understand which directly improves the level of transparency. I don't believe we have been having thorough conversations at City Council when making decisions. In addition to experience this is one of many business strengths I bring to the table, effective format and presentation to the topic and conversation. It's important to remember, city staff can only recommend, City Council approves. Better communication = clearer transparency!