Topeka governing body to choose deputy mayor Tuesday

Karen Hiller, shown here being sworn in Jan. 8 to her third term on the Topeka City Council, is one of three council members who has previously served as deputy mayor. The council will select a deputy mayor at its meeting Tuesday. (Tim Hrenchir/The Capital-Journal)

In three of the past 10 years — 2012, 2013 and 2015 — Topeka governing body members elected a deputy mayor in a unanimous vote.


In the other seven years, they’ve chosen between competing candidates.The election of a deputy mayor is among items on the agenda when the governing body – consisting of the nine city council members and Mayor Michelle De La Isla – meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 214 S.E. 8th.

The Shawnee County Commission won’t meet Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Topeka governing body members fill out paper ballots each January to elect a council member to serve one year as deputy mayor. That person is required to carry out duties that include presiding over council meetings in the mayor’s absence.

Three current council members have been deputy mayor: Sylvia Ortiz, beginning in 2013; Karen Hiller, beginning in 2015; and current Deputy Mayor Jeff Coen, beginning in 2017. De La Isla also was deputy mayor, beginning in 2016, when she served on the council. In addition, the governing body on Tuesday will elect two council members to hold two of the four city votes on the Joint Economic Development Organization, a body of city and Shawnee County elected officials that oversees $5 million raised annually for economic development through a countywide, half-cent sales tax.

Topeka’s mayor and deputy mayor also have votes on the JEDO board, as do the three Shawnee County commissioners.

For the past year, De La Isla and Tony Emerson have held the city’s votes on JEDO, along with Deputy Mayor Coen and former Mayor Larry Wolgast.

In other business, governing body members plan Tuesday to:

— Elect two council members to fill positions on the Metropolitan Topeka Planning Organization policy board. Those are currently held by council members Hiller and Brendan Jensen.

— Hear an update on the city’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate its aging levee system.

— Discuss their body’s rules and procedures.

— Consider approving a conditional use permit that would enable the city government to build a sanitary sewer pump station adjacent to an existing pump station, which needs to be replaced, south of N.W. Williams Street and about 185 feet east of N.W. Tyler.

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


Topeka Capital-Journal archives provide this listing of the city’s last 10 deputy mayors by year of election, with links to the article published when each won election to that position:

2008Jeff Preisner, District 8.

2009 Richard Harmon, District 9.

2010Deborah Swank, District 6.

2011 John Alcala, District 2.

2012Larry Wolgast, District 5.

2013Sylvia Ortiz, District 3.

2014Denise Everhart, District 4.

2015Karen Hiller, District 1.

2016 Michelle De La Isla, District 5.

2017 — Jeff Coen, District 8.