Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
- Currently: Mayor of Topeka
- Education: BS in Biology from Wichita State University
- Previous political position: Topeka City Councilwoman
- Previous community positions: Supplier Diversity Manager at Evergy; Executive Director of Topeka Habitat for Humanity; Chief Financial Officer at Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc.
I’m a single mom living with my two amazing daughters in Topeka, ages 17 and 15.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
The Black Lives Matter movement is exactly that – a movement. Our country has done a lot to be proud of over the last two centuries, but we have a long way to go. It is important for us, as leaders to support the right of our citizens to peacefully protest against and advocate for solutions to systemic racism. We must step up and advocate for policies that promote equality and justice for people of color in our communities.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
The first step to promoting social and racial justice is to listen to the people being affected by injustice everyday. We have to have uncomfortable conversations. Topeka City Council is made up of a diverse group of elected representatives who are willing to have those tough conversations. As a community, we’ve worked hard to increase diversity on all of our boards and commissions. Our country needs a change in leadership, that’s why I’m running for Congress. We cannot talk about race and the glory of our nation without talking about the historic transgressions that took place when our country was founded and that continue to impact minority populations.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
I’m proud of the work Topeka has done toward ensuring the police are able to do their job and work with and for our city. Over the last three years, our community members and police officers have engaged in deep conversations with regard to police brutality. We have made some important transformational steps, but there is still much work to do. Our police department educated on racial competence, inclusion and implicit bias. We must continue to evaluate and improve our policies to ensure that our police officers are working with members of our community and serving our residents with integrity and respect. I’m proud to have worked with my team to make sure our police and communities work well together.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?
Our country is ranked second in the world in COVID-19 cases right now. We must rely on our scientific experts to come through this pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. Our scientists have been telling us to stay home, to social distance, to invest in testing and contact tracing, and now to wear masks. In times like this the job of our leaders is to step up and make tough decisions. Scientists are telling us how to stop community spread of the virus and giving us a way to carefully open the economy with proper precautions and measures in place. It is time to listen and implement these recommendations at every level of government.
Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?
Yes. Unemployment is at an all-time high, some of our families have been without a paycheck for months and small businesses are struggling. Now is the time to use stimulus money to ensure stability for families and small businesses. It is also important that there be strong oversight and accountability, so that stimulus dollars are going where they are most needed.
What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?
I know firsthand what it’s like to fight serious illness without health insurance or access to quality medical care. I will never forget the crippling anxiety I felt each day when I opened the mail. It took me ten years to pay off my medical bills. We must do better for our families. Insufficiencies in our healthcare system have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Millions of people are out of work and when they lost their jobs, they lost their health insurance. We must make sure that people who want healthcare are able to access healthcare
We need to improve our infrastructure. Addressing our infrastructure obstacles will not only bring us closer to solving our economic mobility challenges, it will make both our urban and rural communities stronger. Investing in infrastructure will help our farmers, the backbone of the Kansas economy. Nothing is more important than bolstering our economy while building up our communities. Farmers across Kansas have told me about our damaged roads, crumbling bridges, and failing water systems. We cannot effectively do business with the rest of the world without a strong infrastructure here at home. COVID-19 has shed light on an already devastating problem in our rural communities – lack of access to the internet. The internet is vital when it comes to educating children, communicating with each other, and getting important news, we must be willing to invest in it on behalf of our rural communities. Improvements to our electricity grids, broadband, and transportation systems are long overdue, and I will work towards solutions at the federal level to fund a meaningful rural infrastructure package.
Providing an excellent public education for every child is our responsibility as leaders. I fought poverty and homelessness as a youth. Getting an education saved my life, it enabled me to rise above my challenges, and even now, it is the reason I am able to support my children. Investing in education is investing in our communities.
As mayor of Topeka I’ve worked across the aisle, building personal relationships leads to building legislation. I look forward to working with friends in both parties to help our country invest in healthcare, infrastructure, and public education.
Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?
I want to make sure that every Kansan who wants healthcare gets healthcare without breaking the bank. The best way to achieve equal access to healthcare is to enhance the Affordable Care Act while allowing the health insurance industry to continue to provide private options. Every person should be free to choose between a fortified public option, or private, employer, or union – funded coverage – including those under age 65, and individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.
I support the right of citizens to engage in responsible gun ownership. As mayor, I have also advocated for common sense gun reform to reduce incidents of violent crime and gun violence in our schools. I have worked hard to curb unlawful gun possession by felons and domestic violence offenders in Topeka. Twice in the last three years, my daughter has had to hide under her desk due to an active shooter situation near her school. Gun violence and the threat of gun violence are personal to me, and that is part of the reason why I will advocate for policies that will reduce gun violence in our communities.
Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?
Part of what makes our country so beautiful is the blending of cultures we experience every day. Every county in Kansas relies on hard-working immigrants who not only grow our local economies, but also make our communities stronger and more vibrant. We should welcome immigrants into our country, and provide fair and efficient pathways to citizenship. Any discussion about immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals living in our communities. These are our friends and neighbors. Their children are our children’s classmates. I vow to always treat immigrants with the same kindness and respect that our citizens are afforded each and every day, and will work to reform existing laws into a fair and efficient immigration system. Our borders must be secured. Studies have shown that a border wall will do little to deter unlawful entry into our country. There are humane ways to protect our borders while maintaining the integrity of our immigration process and the safety of our citizens.
What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?
The United States has been a global leader in combating terrorism wherever it is. I’m committed to empowering our allies in strategic parts of the world to protect themselves and democratic values. We also need to focus on strengthening our economic partnerships close to home, creating and promoting strong economies is a proactive way to ensure the world is safe and secure. Congress being in charge of where and when the US spends money on the deployment of military forces means they should be an important player in those decisions.
What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?
Now more than ever, we are looking to our nation’s leaders to protect our world for future generations. I believe we can find the common ground to work to solve climate change. Kansans on both sides of the aisle support renewable energy solutions like solar and wind energy. Strategies to protect our soil, minimize water use and lower pollution levels shouldn’t be controversial. This has become a social justice issue. All Americans deserve to be able to breathe easily and drink clean water.
Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?
I began my work on the Topeka City Council in 2013 and was elected Mayor in 2018, my city’s budget has been at the top of my mind for years. As a city we have worked hard to balance our budget while keeping taxes at a responsible level and continuing to invest in infrastructure. I would take that same attitude to Washington DC. We must work toward a balanced budget.