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Topeka City Council 2

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    Will Pope

  • Tamika Terry

  • Christina Valdivia-Alcala

Biographical Information

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?

What are your ideas for addressing the problems of homelessness and availability of adequate, affordable housing in this community?

What are your ideas for improving police-community relations in Topeka?

What are your proposals for the city to facilitate a complete count of Topeka and Shawnee County residents in the 2020 U.S. census?

How would you improve the transparency of and citizen participation in city government?

Personal Biography Will grew up in North Topeka, and lived in Oakland during college. He has seen the issues facing our community first hand, and is running for city council because the city has too often neglected the north side of town. Will's background includes work for the National Park Service, and conservation non-profits, as well as public service in Kansas at the city, county, and state level. Will’s diverse experiences and perspectives make him well-suited to carefully consider community issues.
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Education High School: Topeka High School (2004) Bachelor of Science in Management and Ethics - Manhattan Christian College (2010) Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership - Fort Hays State University (2016) Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - The University of Iowa (2019) Ph.D. Studies in Leadership Communication - Kansas State University (Beginning 2019)
Community/Public Service National Park Service Innovative Leadership Network: 2014-2016 (Core Team Member and Chair of Recruitment) National Park Service Leadership Matters: 2015-2016 (Leadership Strategist) National Park Service Allies for Inclusion: 2016 (Diversity Dialogue Facilitator) Nicodemus Historical Society: 2017-2019 (Board Member) Kansas Trails Council: 2017-2019 (Member)
Address 1106 NW Jackson St. Topeka, Kansas 66608
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In 2000, JEDO began giving money to GoTopeka to stimulate economic development. That amount rose to $5 million per year in 2005, and has remained at that level ever since. The result? Topeka has grown at a much slower rate than both the national and state average. Studies show that targeted economic incentives do not work, and they certainly have not worked for Topeka.

I support ending the JEDO allocation to GoTopeka, and believe we can better spend that money by investing in our own city. I also will oppose the use of special tax districts. Those reduce the tax base, while also favoring only select businesses. Topeka needs to end the corporate welfare, and foster an economic climate that is fair to all.
Homelessness is a big issue in Topeka, and certainly one that affects the 2nd district. As a result of the Kansas Ave. bridge fire, the City has proposed a camping ban within the city limits. My own preference would be to create a designated camping using excess land own by the city along the river. Having a set location will allow camping restrictions that would prevent future bridge fires, while enabling homeless persons an alternative to staying at the mission.

Having worked for land management agencies much of my life, I understand the camping issue very well, and know that Kansas has a shortage of free camping areas. In western states, campers can utilize the vast reserves of public land. Here, most of our land is privately owned. Creating a designated camping area would improve Topeka's image among outdoor travelers who can't afford hotel stays.
I went through police academy a decade ago, and understand the perspectives of the Topeka Police Department and the public.Our officers have a difficult jobs, and need to know their elected officials have their backs. I will.

I've been impressed that TPD has increased community policing in the last decade. Developing lines of communication with neighborhoods builds mutual trust. I would like to see those efforts continue, and be expanded where possible.

A big part of community relations depend on the individual leadership of our officers. When I went through academy, there was much less emphasis on communications and public relations, than on use of force. Mastering both are essential to police work. I would like to look at the current police academy curriculum, and evaluate whether there any adjustments could be made that would enhance the development of interpersonal skills. I would also like to survey officers annually to measure the department's internal work culture.
I fully support the census efforts. The results of the census will determine how much federal funding is available to our city and state, so the more people we count the better.

The City of Topeka should work with census officials to align goals and messaging, and develop a communications campaign to maximize awareness. We'll need to have a range of strategies in place encompassing traditional and digital media channels, as well as in-person contacts.

The City of Topeka has done a tremendous job of making local government more transparent through their online data portal. However, there's more that should be done.

Our city needs to create an independent performance auditor position (different than a financial auditor) to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of local government. The auditor should be given access to all city files, as well as the files of any entity receiving money from the city (Such as GoTopeka and Visit Topeka), and should make regular reports to the public that include findings of mismanagement and recommended improvements.

I would also like to see JEDO and GoTopeka become more transparent with their reports. Their current system of organization hides key information within meeting minutes, and makes it very difficult to find on the JEDO website.

As far as citizen participation goes, I'd like to see the city work to increase NIA participation. If NIA groups are active, the people will lead change.
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