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Topeka mayoral candidates discuss fixing roadways, other issues at public forum

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:16 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Less than a week away from local elections and Topeka’s candidates had one last chance to convince voters why they would be the best in their roles.

As their campaigns are wrapping up, mayoral candidates Mike Padilla and Leo Cangiani sat down to take some questions from voters.

Improving roadways was on the mind of many residents.

“The score I saw last time, I saw was a 55, so a 55 score is an unacceptable score this is not what we want as Topeka,” said Cangiani. That’s a part of what we think about ourselves right we need to get that better and fix these streets and feel proud of this city.”

“To the public that doesn’t mean much of anything,” said Padilla. “You talk about it’s 55, it needs to be 75, but how do you get to 55 to 60, to 65 to 75.” “You don’t jump from 55 to 75 that takes a lot of money and a lot of effort. "

Padilla says a portion of the funds the city receives from the American Rescue Plan can be used to invest in roadways.

“Capacity is the thing we need to improve on, if the city staff can’t do it we need to look at contracting that work out, as long as we have the resources, right now we have the opportunity with additional funds coming from ARPA so we will put those funds to work that you will physically be able to see,” said Padilla.

While Cangiani suggest the problem could be solved by improving communication and planning among city departments.

“I’m a holistic thinker, I say what’s underneath the street and ‘can we change that now’ so that communication of departments need to happen ‘can we change this pipe right now’ well it’ll be a couple years ‘well no lets go ahead and do it now so we’re not breaking up the street again when a pipe busts, so let’s communicate a little better,” said Cangiani.

Residents were also curious about how the candidates would prioritize ARPA money.

Cangiani says it would be to improve the looks of Topeka.

The roads, we need to help the infrastructure, overall with curbs and lighting and keep those places safe.”

Padilla says he believes that the city should look at supporting small businesses especially after the pandemic.

“I think small business development is extremely important thats what kept this city alive during COVID, there were more small businesses that opened during COVID than closed.”

Shawnee County polls open at 7 a-m next Tuesday. in person advance voting at the elections office goes til noon Monday.

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