Topeka City Council

Topeka Governing Body: Top Row: Mayor Michael Padilla, Karen Hiller (District 1), Christina Valdivia-Alcalá (District 2), Sylvia Ortiz (District 3), Tony Emerson (District 4). Bottom Row: Brett Kell (District 5), Hannah Naeger (District 6), Neil Dobler (Deputy Mayor/District 7), Spencer Duncan (District 8), Michelle Hoferer (District 9)

The City Council conducts the business of the city by voting on ordinances, resolutions, applications, plats, zoning petitions, receiving reports and other items. The City Council elects a Deputy Mayor every year, who presides over Council meetings in the absence of the Mayor. All Councilmembers are members of Topeka/Shawnee County JEDO (Joint Economic Development Organization). Three are voting members.

Serving on the City Council is considered a part-time duty. The majority of Council members have full-time jobs in addition to their City Council duties. The compensation for each City Council member is set by ordinance at $20,000 per year. The City Council employs an assistant who helps respond to constituents, conducts research and assists with other official business.

You can view the districts via the District Maps (interactive map).
The City Council normally meets on the first three Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers (municipal courtroom), 214 E. 8th. These meetings are cablecast live on the city’s governmental access Channel 4 on the Cox Cablevision Network. Replays are shown Wednesday at 1 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.

The City Council does, from time to time, meet in Special Session or continued meetings. These meetings, like all other meetings excluding Executive Session, are open public meetings. Under State law, certain items may be discussed in Executive Session, which are of a legal or personnel nature. These items are defined by state law.

Governing Body

Mayor – Michael Padilla

Picture of Karen Hiller

Karen Hiller
1018 SW Lane St
Topeka, KS 66604

Committee/Boards Membership

  • Budget Committee
  • Complete Streets Advisory Committee
  • Futures 2040 Steering Committee
  • JEDO, MTPO, Economic & Community Development, Policy & Finance (Chair)


Karen Hiller is our City Councilwoman from District 1. Within that district, she represents Downtown , 10 active neighborhood associations close to downtown, our riverfront heritage industrial district, various retail corridors, over 30 churches, 7 schools and, within that, a wide range of aging but historic buildings and infrastructure – a city within our city.

Karen has served since 2009 and is known as a very hard worker and the person who is “always there” on the Council. She has been a leader on such issues as Downtown Revitalization, having master plans for our street and utility programs, plans to relocate the Polk-Quincy Viaduct, revamping our animal control codes, development of a master bikeways plan, advocacy towards our city becoming debt-free, recruiting diverse and “new blood” to over 40 city board and commission positions, as well as countless district and constituent issues regarding code compliance, brick streets, fireworks policy and the like.

Prior to her service on the Council, Karen retired in 2007 as Executive Director of Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., a mulit-service nonprofit based in Topeka, after almost 34 years of agency growth, program excellence, service and leadership. She has been a community leader on such projects as the Washburn-Lane Parkway and the establishment of the Aaron Douglas Mural and Aaron Douglas Art Fair for diverse and emerging artists. She is a graduate of the Leadership Topeka Class of 2004. Her current personal projects are working to redevelop the commercial district at 5th and Washburn and to save Sumner School.

Other than community service, she loves to spend time with family and friends, is often seen biking or walking to events, loves to cook and spend time at home, and is often out and about at arts, music and theater events. She has three grown sons, all Topeka High graduates, of whom she is very proud and whose company she very much enjoys.
Picture of Christina Valdivia-Alcalá

Christina Valdivia-Alcalá
520 NE Lake St
Topeka, KS 66616


Christina was born and raised in both Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood and a farm outside of Grantville. She grew up in a large family unit that stressed volunteerism, political involvement, and civil rights. She graduated from Hayden High School and has a B.A. from Washburn University in History with a minor in Political Science. Christina obtained her degree as a non-traditional student and in the early 1990’s she traveled to El Salvador and conducted oral history projects on the post-civil war lives of combatants.

Christina has volunteered for decades in Topeka’s Mexican American community including interviews of community elders, chaired her daughter’s Fiesta Mexicana Royalty Contest, chaired publicity on the Fiesta Mexicana planning committee and expanded arts and culture for children during Fiesta. She was a member/officer of MANA de Topeka in the early 1990’s. Valdivia-Alcala has served on the Shawnee County Civil Service Board, the Advisory Board for the Center of Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas and the Shawnee County Historical Society.

In 2012, Valdivia-Alcala founded the Tonantzin Society, grassroots all volunteer community organization. The Society has been responsible for numerous primary and secondary educational projects. Additionally, the organization has hosted community events in Topeka and across the state. The Society preserves and educates on Chicana/Indigenous/ Latinx art and culture with additional emphasis on social and environmental justice. One of the Society’s major programs (with Kansas public school educators, KSBE, KSDE and legislators) is Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Program for Kansas Public Schools (7-12). She currently serves as Tonantzin Society Director.

Christina lives in the Oakland community and is married, with one daughter and two grandchildren.
Picture of Sylvia Ortiz

Sylvia Ortiz
837 SE Gilmore
Topeka, KS 66607

Committee/Boards Membership

  • JEDO
  • Police & Community Special Committee (Chair)
  • Transient Guest Tax Committee
  • GTP Chairs Council (Mayor’s Designee)


Sylvia E. Ortiz was born and raised in Topeka Kansas and serves on the Topeka City Council Representing District 3. A product of Topeka Public Schools, Sylvia E. Ortiz graduated from Topeka High School and Kaw Area Technical School, now known as WTI (Washburn Institute of Technology), receiving a degree in Secretarial Office Education. She also attended Allen Community College in Burlingame, KS.

She is a mother to three young adult children and granny to five grandchildren. Sylvia served as East Topeka South's Neighborhood Improvement Association President for over 10 years before she ran and was voted into the Topeka City Council Office for District Three in 2005. Sylvia is very proud of being a major stake holder in creating the first spray park in the Samuel Jackson’s Park, located in East Topeka. She is the longest serving Council member and loves to help people. Ms. Ortiz decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and neighbors. She loves to help the Youth and has put on several events for them in East Topeka.

Ms. Ortiz will continue her efforts to support and inspire young people during her time as a City Council member.
Picture of Tony Emerson

Tony Emerson
3111 SE Silverleaf Ct.
Topeka, KS 66609

Committee / Board Memberships

  • JEDO
  • Transient Guest Tax (Chair)
  • Policy & Finance
Picute of Brett Kell

Brett Kell
3749 SE Truman Ave
Topeka, KS 66619
Picture of Hannah Naeger

Hannah Naeger
215 SE 7th St. Rm 255
Topeka, KS 66603


Hannah Naeger is a local dentist, and she is now taking the next step in her community involvement by representing District 6 in the Topeka City Council.

Born and raised in Topeka, Hannah has a long history of involvement in the community. She is a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church, danced with both Ballet Midwest and Metropolitan Ballet, and graduated from Topeka High School. She moved away while pursuing her undergraduate degree and then continued on through dental school, living first in Memphis and later in Oklahoma City. This afforded her the opportunity to experience life in cities undergoing their own revitalization and renewal of civic pride.

After graduating, Hannah returned to Topeka and invested directly in the community by becoming a homeowner in the 6th District and a small business owner with the purchase of Shunga Family Dental Care. She has enjoyed knocking on doors to promote NIA events in Topeka, graduating as a member of the 2018 class of Leadership Greater Topeka, serving on the TPAC board, participating on FUMC’s mission team, and singing with both the church choir and Shawnee Choral Society.

Living in other cities put into perspective the value of growing up with the supportive environment of the Topeka community. Hannah has a renewed appreciation for her hometown and wants to take an active role in securing its future.
Picture of Neil Dobler

Neil Dobler
6201 SW 48th Pl
Topeka, KS 66610
Picture of Spencer Duncan

Spencer Duncan
2513 SW Ashworth Pl
Topeka, KS 66614


Spencer is a native Topekan who grew up in District 8. His professional career is dedicated to developing business and non-profits. As owner of Capitol Connection, Spencer serves as Executive Director of the Kansas Pest Control Association and represents several other associations. He helps businesses, non-profits, education institutions, cities and counties.

He is an alum and former State Chair of Leadership Kansas. He attended McEachron Elementary, French Middle School and Topeka West High School in USD 501. He holds a B.A. in English and B.S. in Journalism from the University of Kansas and earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Baker University. Spencer has also served as an adjunct professor at Washburn University.

Spencer was Editor-in-Chief of the University Daily Kansan, spent five years as a sports reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and was an editor, reporter and columnist for the Austin American Statesman, Rocky Mount Telegram and Emporia Gazette. He is also author of the book, “Historic Shawnee County: A History of Topeka and Shawnee County.”

Spencer is an active member of St. David’s Episcopal Church and has been a member of the Vestry and is a founding member of the “Breakfast Crew” which cooks and serves breakfast each Sunday morning. He is two-term President of Topeka West Rotary and served as a member of the Stormont Vail Health Events Center Advisory Board and Topeka Performing Arts Centers Board of Trustees.

Spencer lives with his wife Barbara, son Connor, several cats, a few fish and one yard full of rabbits who enjoy eating their garden. Spencer also enjoys disc golf and has participated in the Sunflower State Games multiple times.
Picture of Michelle Hoferer

Michelle Hoferer

216 SW Fairlawn Rd
Topeka, KS 66606