Mayoral And District 5 Candidates Answer Questions At Forum

By: Sarah Plake Email
By: Sarah Plake Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Election Day in the Capital City is quickly approaching and candidates are scrambing to capture Topeka's votes.

A question-and-answer-style forum was held at Avondale East Elementary School, which is closed, on Thursday evening.

The three mayoral candidates, and the two candidates running for District 5, share common goals for the city.

Avondale East Elementary is located in District 5 off Adams Street, and the now unused school is the sort of project all of the candidates at the political forum spoke about - making Topeka a better place to live.

The three running for mayor, Larry Wolgast; Michael Ogle; and write-in Betty Dunn, answered questions from an audience of 25 about how they'll improve the city.

"We need to achieve greater economic development based around local small businesses that'll provide options for the work force and options for the consumer," Ogle said. It is his first time running for office, and works for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

"We need to lower our crime rate and we need to work on our infrastructure and get jobs," Dunn said. "I will stress openness and transparency in government." She has eight years of experience working in City Council and served as Deputy Mayor for two years.

"I strongly support neighborhood development," Wolgast said. "I think the quality of life in a city is determined much by the quality of the neighborhoods. I think we have to continue to work on infrastructure, getting a good program to solve our various issues with water mains."
Wolgast is leaving his position as Councilman for District 5 in hopes to fill Incumbent Mayor Bill Bunten's spot.

District 5 candidates Michelle de la Isla and Terry Crowder were there to address their district and talk about their experiences.

"I'm a lifelong resident of Topeka," Crowder said. "[I want to] make Topeka a more likable city, make it a city where people would love to come to to live, work and play." He served as the Vice Chair of the Kansas Human Rights Commission.

"With District 5, I think that one of the big things is right here. We're standing at Avondale East and the work that Safe Streets has begun with the Rescue Mission and other groups that are partnering here - if we can continue nurturing this neighborhood so we can grow it," de la Isla said. She is the Executive Director for Topeka Habitat for Humanity.

13 News asked Michael Ogle about his past run-ins with the law, involving two DUI charges.

One ended with diversion when he was 21 years old, and he was found innocent in the other in 2011.

He said those experiences would only make him a better leader, and that he made mistakes when he was young.

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