Board member Karen Hiller has been in her seat for 12 years, but she still wants to do more work.
“I’m a worker. I just want to get in there and work,” she said. “I’m not someone who’s going to chase after the flash in the pan, a one-time problem.”
Hiller is running for re-election to the seat of the 1st district of Topeka. Hiller has lived in Topeka for decades and raised his three children Michael, Bryan and Neil there.
Previously, she worked as the Executive Director of the non-profit Housing and Credit Counseling Services Inc., which provides a variety of housing and financial counseling services.
What did you do during your 12 years on the Topeka City Council?
Hiller mentioned dozens of things she accomplished on city council, including being involved in “all aspects” of downtown redevelopment, street development, riverside improvements and ordinance reviews. on animal control, among others.
Hiller served on the Joint Economic Development Organization, which was established in 2001. She chairs the Public Health and Safety Committee, which reviews broadband access in Topeka, and she is a member of the Police and Community Committee, which reviews Topeka Police Department.
“I learned more and more regularly,” she said. “The board changes every two years, (and) we also have staff changes. It has been very helpful to bring the institutional history of the city to this post.
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Hiller said she is deeply rooted in her neighborhoods and that every neighborhood in her district has improved since being first elected. She said being accessible to voters and making government more efficient were hallmarks of her tenure.
In 2012, trust in Topeka City Council was low and people were embarrassed to live in the city, Hiller said.
“The mood of the people towards the city and the city government was at its lowest,” she said. “The tapes of our council meetings were used to explain how not to run a municipal government. “
Hiller said Topeka city council is functioning more efficiently now, which has kept one of his first campaign pledges to solve the city’s government problems.
What do you still want to do in the office?
Hiller said working with neighborhood investments and code compliance are issues she hopes to resolve during her next term, if she is re-elected. She said she had worked on these issues before, but said staying on the board allows her to make sure they’re done right.
“It takes time to do some things,” she said. “It’s not just a policy. You can’t just pass it … and make it happen. “
Hiller was part of a group that was reimagining investing in the neighborhood and rethinking the resource milestone targeting grant. This grant provides money to a neighborhood improvement association each year, but has been compared to winning the lottery because only one of NIA’s nearly two dozen receives the $ 1.7 million each year.
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Hiller hopes the DREAMS program can provide neighborhood groups with better access to local government to advocate for their cause. DREAMS is not yet in place, the Capital-Journal reported on April 30, but a smaller DREAMS grant is providing $ 200,000 to a variety of neighborhoods after its launch this year.
Hiller has also touted his good budget sense and wants to keep abreast of urban projects that are lagging behind. She said there are a variety of infrastructure projects, such as curb and gutter projects, which are funded by debt service funds. She said that while “she wants it all,” she wants to fund improvements without raising taxes.
“They have no place there in the long run,” she said. “A big challenge this season is to fix those issues, update them and pull them out of there and put them into the operating budget for prevention and maintenance.”