TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten will not seek another term in office, he announced Thursday during a news conference at city hall.
Speaking to reporters, the mayor discussed changes he hopes to see in the city's future, but said he will leave office in April feeling good about Topeka.
"I have enjoyed serving as mayor immensely," Bunten said.
Bunten said he feels good about a number of projects that are underway in the city, including the NOTO Arts District, downtown redevelopment and street improvements.
The mayor also highlighted businesses that are bringing jobs to the area, including Mars and Bimbo Bakeries.
After praising Topeka's good works, Bunten discussed concerns he wants addressed in the future, including what he considers to be an unacceptable salary for the city's mayor.
"I believe it is unwise to have the office of mayor stand as the lowest paid full-time employee of the city, paid almost $1,000 less than a building custodian," Bunten said.
Topeka's mayor is paid $20,000 plus $3600 for vehicle expenses. The compensation was changed in 2005, when the city's form of government changed from strong mayor to council-manager. The thought was the mayor's position would become more ceremonial and part time, but Bunten maintains meeting even half of the board, meeting, ribbon cutting, public event and other obligations is a full-time commitment. He says, this year, he's logged 269 events through the end of September.
Bunten was the first mayor elected in the new form of government. He won a second term in 2009, carrying more than 65 percent in every precinct.
The mayor's office caps a public service career that's spanned five decades. Bunten was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1962. He served in the House for 28 years. He returned to the legislature in 2003, when he was appointed to the State Senate to fill out the term left vacant when Lynn Jenkins was elected State Treasurer.
Bunten had previously said part of his decision would be based on whether he was comfortable with people who expressed interest in the job. He said Thursday that he did have conversations with a few people, but he did not reveal who any of those people might be.
Bunten's full comments, including other concerns he has for the city, are included in the document linked at the top of this article (will not open on mobile)