Mayor, city manager have monthly news conference on Tuesday morning

13 News at Six
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 1:55 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka Mayor Mike Padilla and City Manager Steve Wade held their monthly news conference Tuesday morning in City Hall, where they discussed a wide array of subjects.

Among topics discussed were the city of Topeka’s ongoing focus on increasing diversity in it its workforce; efforts to attract new businesses to Topeka while retaining current companies; and the need for the occupants of some buildings on the north edge of downtown Topeka to look for new homes as a result of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct reconstruction project along Interstate 70.

Neither the mayor nor the city manager was able to comment on a lawsuit brought this past week by three high-ranking female officers against the Topeka Police Department.

“That’s pending litigation, and so I’m certainly not at liberty to comment,” Wade said. “What I can say is we always take claims of that nature very seriously. We expect the justice system to solve that.”

In their $1.5 million federal lawsuit, the three female officers allege they were the victims of discriminatory practices at the Topeka Police Department, as well as being passed over for promotions in favor of their male counterparts.

Wade said the city of Topeka continues its efforts to have a diverse and inclusive workforce, not just in the police department but in all of its divisions.

Padilla said the Topeka Police Department has far more female officers working there than when he started his 34-year career on the force.

“Coming from the police department, I know the changes that have taken place there,” Padilla said. “The number of female officers that are there serving this community has grown amazingly since I started.”

Meanwhile, Hill’s Pet Nutrition announced a couple of weeks ago that it will be moving its corporate offices from Topeka to Overland Park.

However, Wade noted that Hill’s will continue to be a major player in Topeka’s economy as it will keep its global science, technology and manufacturing hubs in the capital city.

Wade added that local leaders are constantly looking for new businesses to bring to Topeka while retaining those already here.

The mayor and city manager also discussed the ongoing work with the Polk-Quincy Viaduct along Interstate 70 on the north end of downtown Topeka. They noted occupants of several buildings in that area will have to find new locations.

Wade said the Law Enforcement Center at 320 S. Kansas Ave. will be able to stay at its present location during the reconstruction of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct.

However, the city’s Fleet Services division, located across the parking lot from the Law Enforcement Center near S.E. 4th and Monroe, will have to find a new home.

Padilla said efforts are already underway to find a new location for the Fleet Services division, where repairs and maintenance are done on city vehicles, including the Topeka Police Department cruisers.

“They have looked at different sites,” Padilla said, “and are continuing to do that to try and find the most reasonable and useful property and location for us to move.”

Mayor Padilla also thanked the Topeka Fire Department for its work in battling a rash of blazes in recent weeks.

During the news conference, Mayor Padilla took a moment to wish a happy 93rd birthday on Tuesday to his mother, Rose.