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
What is your position on the use of tax dollars to support economic development in the private sector? What, if any, conditions should be imposed on the use of tax dollars for economic development?
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.
What are your ideas for addressing the problems of homelessness and availability of adequate, affordable housing in this community?
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.
What are your ideas for improving police-community relations in Topeka?
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.
What are your proposals for the city to facilitate a complete count of Topeka and Shawnee County residents in the 2020 U.S. census?
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.
How would you improve the transparency of and citizen participation in city government?
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.