May 4, 2017

Hello! I'm Michelle De La Isla...

...City Council Member for the City of Topeka, District 5, and Diversity and Inclusion Representative at Westar Energy. I’ve spent my life devoted to serving my community. I faced many challenges as a young woman, and was able to overcome the obstacles put in my path because of members of the Topeka community who walked beside me and believed in me. I know the true power of compassion and kindness, and have since felt called to pay that kindness forward by serving my community. I have a wide range of professional, volunteer, and leadership experiences. I owned and operated a small cleaning business, taught biology at Butler County Community College, and served as the Director of Operations and later as the Chief Financial Officer at the Housing and Credit Council. As the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity, I worked closely with the board and volunteers to grow the program and to identify and obtain a permanent home for the organization. I have dedicated much of my time to civic activism and leadership development in the Topeka community. I worked closely with Upward Bound and MANA National, and was one of the four founding members of the Hermanitas mentorship program. I also served on the Capital District Project committee, which ignited my passion for the redevelopment of Topeka and the cultivation of a vibrant urban core. But all of these experiences, and all of these titles, pale in comparison to the greatest honor of all: being the mom of Erick, Loraine, and Cristina. Topeka is the community of my dreams. I love raising my children here, and I have planted deep roots in this Kansas soil. It’s my job to show the citizens of Topeka and everyone else looking in that this place we call home, is an amazing community with unlimited potential. I firmly believe that when we work together, Topeka can and will prosper. I would be honored to receive your support, and I know that if we work together, our future is bright. Please cast your vote for Michelle De La Isla for Mayor of Topeka in 2017.

For Topeka

My vision for Topeka is bold and ambitious. I see our city becoming a prime destination for young professionals, families, and employers. These individuals are drawn here because Topekans consistently show those outside of our community that our city is a great place to live, work, and play. Here is a brief outline of how I plan to achieve this vision.

Economic Development

As Mayor, I will support well-planned initiatives to grow Topeka. I view the economic development of our community as a strategic and holistic process, and will place emphasis on the following economic development initiatives:

  1. Population growth.
  2. Workforce development.
  3. Business attraction and retention.
  4. Improved quality of life.

We achieve economic growth by bringing new corporations to the community and by making sure that we support our existing business enterprises. I plan to work hand in hand with the economic development arm of our city, as well as local organizations, to ensure that we use clear and consistent communication to present Topeka in a way that makes us attractive to individuals and businesses looking at our community.

Quality of Life
Defining a high quality of life is difficult, but as the saying goes, “You know it when you see it.” When we work to create a high quality of life in our community, we are striving to establish an environment in which the people who live here feel safe, engaged, and proud of where they are from. Achieving a high quality of life requires a three-pronged approach, which includes:

  1. Creating and sustaining a thriving businesses community. This includes supporting the existing businesses in our community, seeking new businesses to locate here, and assisting entrepreneurs as they start and grow new businesses. A healthy businesses ecosystem ensures that our citizens, both current and future, can find gainful and meaningful employment.
  2. Establishing, updating, and maintaining infrastructure. A strong foundation is critical to the growth and development of our community. We will work closely with the State to determine what programs we qualify for to improve our roads, and follow the existing strategy to grow our city in a sustainable way.
  3. Creating a feeling of community pride and connectedness in our neighborhoods. We do this by supporting Neighborhood Improvement Associations, by working to improve code enforcement in our city, and by striving to overcome preconceived notions about our community, both internally and externally.

Population Growth
Growing the population of Topeka must be at the forefront of our development efforts moving forward. It is a fact that our population growth rate has been stagnant for many years, and we need to address this problem in order to sustain the economic development that we are working to achieve. We grow our population by forging successful partnerships among the various organizations and businesses in our community and by working diligently to eliminate silos. These partnerships will be the key to successful population growth and will lead to many advancements in the community, including:

  1. A thriving urban core that is a central gathering place for our visitors and citizens;
  2. A wealth of jobs available for individuals moving to Topeka;
  3. A pipeline of qualified employees moving easily from academia to the workforce;
  4. And a quality of life that is second to none.

We also grow our population by recognizing and elevating our intrinsic value as a community. We acknowledge our weaknesses and commit to finding solutions to our problems, together. We must also cultivate a positive self-image among our citizens, and make sure that we showcase Topeka to those looking in not just a great place to live, but as a place where you can actively shape your community and engage with your neighbors in a meaningful way.