Candidates for mayor of Topeka share opinions in live blog

Mayoral candidates Mark Weiser, Spencer Duncan, Clark Trammell, Michelle De La Isla and Chris Schultz. (Katie Moore/The Capital-Journal)

Participants in the race for the Topeka mayor’s office disagreed Friday about the significance of a fundraising lead held by candidates Michelle De La Isla and Spencer L. Duncan.


Candidate Clark W. Trammell said he saw no effect.

“I want to win your vote, not buy your vote,” he said.

But Duncan said he felt “humbled” by the financial support he’s received.

“This campaign is not about money, it is about the issues,” he said. “But it does take money to get the message out, and I hope I have done that and honored those who support me.”

Mayoral candidates Trammell, Duncan, City Councilwoman Michelle De La Isla, Chris Schultz and Mark Weiser took part in a live blog between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday at and made available to the public on CJOnline, the website of The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The newspaper’s managing editor, Sherman Smith, served as moderator for the event, which provided the public a chance to ask questions of the five candidates who will be on the ballot for mayor of Topeka in Tuesday’s primary election.

The mayor’s office is held by Larry Wolgast, who chose not to seek re-election. The top two vote-getters in next week’s primary will face off for the mayoral seat.

Each candidate addressed a question Friday about how the mayoral campaign has been affected by campaign contribution reports.

Those showed De La Isla’s campaign had bought in $14,250 in donations; Duncan’s had received $10,390 in donations plus $5,300 in loans to the campaign from himself; Schultz’s had $3,731 in contributions plus a $1,000 loan from himself; Trammell’s had $3,600 in donations, including a $100 funds transfer from himself; and Weiser’s hadn’t raised any money.

Weiser said he thought citizens were intelligent enough to elect someone based on the issues, “someone they can trust to do the job, not by how many streets signs or TV ads or on how pretty their campaign material is.”

Weiser said he trusted the citizens of Topeka to make the correct choice.

De La Isla said she thought the fundraising figures illustrated who the community supports.

“All my contributions are from our constituents,” she added. “It’s an honor to see that support.”

Schultz said his actions prove he loves Topeka and genuinely wants to make it a better place.

“My campaign hasn’t been about me, excessively fundraising and making a whole bunch of promises that I think voters will like,” he said.

Schultz said his campaign has instead been about “listening to the concerns of the people and taking their words to heart, so they can feel confident that they have the biggest seat at the table as we deal with the day-to-day issues.”

All candidates were present throughout Friday’s blog except De La Isla, who wasn’t able to take part until the final 15 minutes because she was attending a special meeting of the Topeka City Council.

Friday’s live blog also saw:

Duncan, Trammell, Schultz and Weiser each say they considered the mayor’s job to be full-time and planned to work 40 hours a week or more at it, if elected. The question was posed before De La Isla began taking part in the blog.

Schultz maintain his prior contention that Topeka should hire its next police chief from within the department; Trammell say his first choice would be to look within before going outside; Weiser say his experience as a former law enforcement officer taught him that promoting from within is better for morale; and De La Isla saying she doesn’t think the chief “has” to come from within but would encourage internal candidates to apply. Duncan didn’t answer the question.

Weiser say he only supports raising taxes when the citizens of Topeka vote to do that; Duncan say Topeka won’t have to raise any taxes if it focuses on the redevelopment of its current empty commercial properties; Schultz say he would only support raising taxes if every efficiency had been made within the city departments and a critical public issue was at hand: and Trammell say that until he was an active participant in the city budget he wouldn’t be able to give a direct answer regarding under what circumstances he’d be willing to raise taxes. The question was answered before De La Isla began taking part.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.