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Topeka City Council District 7

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  • Joel Campbell

  • Neil Dobler

Biographical Information

What do you think the Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO) can do to support services to workers such as transportation, living wage, affordable health insurance, paid sick and family leave, or childcare support? How would you propose to facilitate your position?

What policies do you think should govern the use of money from the Topeka Housing Trust Fund?

What is the most important issue facing Topeka and how do you propose to address it?

When the City Council draws new election districts for the Council, what criteria will you take into consideration in determining whether those districts are fair to the voters?

What community support services are needed to reduce crime and gun violence (including suicide)? What is your proposal for ensuring availability of those community support services?

Personal Biography 2009 Kansas State University graduate. Moved to Topeka in 2010 to help open up The Home Depot RDC. Worked there for 5 years in management before leaving. Now in manufacturing management for the last six years. Father of two beautiful children. Local soccer coach.
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Education Rock Creek High School graduate 2005 KSU graduate in Business Management with a minor in Human Resources. OSHA 10 hour certified. Former substitute teacher.
Community/Public Service Local soccer coach. Donations to United Way. Volunteered with Untied Way repainting elementary schools.
The interlocal agreement between Shawnee County and Topeka governs what kinds of activities JEDO CAN support and facilitate by spending our sales tax money.  The key language from that agreement that COULD apply to this question is the clause that allows for JEDO to spend money on “workforce training and expansion and other such activities.” Because of this vague language, money pledged by JEDO to local businesses that is rationally related to the purpose of expanding the workforce would likely be lawful.  This COULD include all kinds of worker incentives like a guaranteed minimum wage expectation, health insurance, paid family and medical leave, and even child-care provision. Why not grant the next contract to a minority-run non-profit?  The workforce of Topeka and Shawnee County deserve better.  As a member of the City Council, I will work tirelessly to find better ways to expand our workforce and drive sales taxes lower!   
The municipal code governs the way the money is spent, but here are a few policies that I think should govern the first 10 years of the fund and likely beyond.

No taxes should be raised for this fund.  Presumably, (as with economic development) the free market is fully capable of deciding the value of such initiatives as economic development, real estate development, and even housing, in large measure.  However, a charitable fund designed to provide low-cost housing, group housing, and even housing and rent assistance already exists at various levels of the government, which means our tax dollars are already being taken for these initiatives.  Any trust fund money should be voluntarily contributed, raised through special events, or even reallocated--for a limited time--from existing revenue earmarked for failing non-profits like GoTopeka.  Funds should be spent only from interest money received based on the strength of the fund.
Topeka has one major problem: It’s shrinking.  In my career, problem solving is vital to adding value to our value stream.  Here is a problem-solving exercise to try to answer the tough question using a “5-whys” tool: Why is Topeka shrinking? 

Topeka is shrinking.  Why?  People are leaving or not enough people are moving here to replace a dying population.  Why?  There aren’t enough jobs or careers to attract newcomers or keep Topeka-born people from moving away.  Why? Taxes are too high, services are failing, roads and infrastructure have been neglected too long.  Why?  THAT is the million-dollar question.  Why is Topeka in such a state of disrepair even after a generation of high sales taxes and property taxes? I have my suspicions it is because our leaders waste far too many resources on far too few “goals.”  Just like I would in my day-job, I will evaluate Topeka’s value stream and figure out why we waste so many resources.
The United State Supreme Court has made very clear that racial gerrymandering is illegal and violates the Constitution.  I will never allow racial considerations to be used in redistricting, including “affirmative gerrymandering.” Political gerrymandering that smells like racial gerrymandering is also unacceptable to me.  We have the data, history, and information we need to fairly draw districts for the City, and I intend to do that.  I have worked with some mathematicians in the past, and I believe there is a way to introduce an algorithm to take the emotions out of redrawing districts.
The root cause of most crime or gun violence rarely has anything to with guns.  The roots are found in socioeconomic challenges where we seem to never make much improvement.  Topeka has a fantastic police department, which I fully support.  I believe that education, law and order, economic opportunity, and family preservation are going to ultimately be the backbone of improving our community and reducing crime and violence across the board.  We must protect the vulnerable whenever we can, and always try to give them a hand up and OUT of the difficult situation they’re in. 

I also know the truly hardened criminal doesn’t respect the police officer, the judge, or the jury, and if I’m ever confronted by someone who means to do me harm, and I can’t escape the situation, I have to be able to defend myself.  That is why I fully support constitutional carry in Kansas and in Topeka.

One last great resource would be to get the police involved in elementary school programs for all children.
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