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William Hendrix, 20, is one of the youngest candidates to ever run for Topeka City Council



TOPEKA, Kan. – William Hendrix turned 20 on April 4. The candidate for Topeka City Council’s 3rd District was born in 2001 and is preparing to study at Washburn Tech.

Hendrix said he only recently decided to run for city council but said politics is his long-term goal.

“Most people might consider it odd that I care this much about the city, (asking me), ‘Why didn’t you just get out when you could?’” Hendrix said. “Topeka is my city. I am staking my life here.”

Hendrix graduated from Topeka High in 2019 and has spent his entire life in the city. Hendrix’s candidacy will force a primary election because he is the fourth person to file for the District 3 seat.

Do you think your age will help or hurt your campaign?

Hendrix said some people will write him off because of his age, but he said it can be an advantage. Multiple candidate’s platforms are about reinvesting in the city to attract and retain young people. Hendrix said he can better relate to the younger generation than other candidates.

“The transfer of power from generation to generation has to happen sometime,” Hendrix said. “Young people running for things is going to happen.”

He said he won’t make age a focal point in his campaign and is running to fix the issues he sees in Topeka.

What are the issues you see in Topeka?

Hendrix said he wants to see more investment in District 3, including a new grocery store in central Topeka. He said he is familiar with the central Topeka Grocery Oasis group and its efforts to get a grocery store in the core of the city, but he wants to see another grocery store in the area.

Hendrix has lived on the 2300 block of Harrison street his entire life and remembers a grocery store when growing up. He said it was easy to grab food when coming home from school but now finds it more difficult to access groceries since the store closed.

Hendrix also referenced a Jan. 30 Capital-Journal article that highlighted investment disparities in the city. Topeka spent $91.4 million in streets, alley, bridge and sidewalk projects on areas west of Kansas Avenue between 2015 and 2020, according to a list of construction projects received in an open records request. The city spent $32.4 million on projects east of Kansas Avenue, The Capital-Journal reported.

“One of our biggest issues in District 3 is we are not getting the funding we need because it is all being pushed west,” he said. “It is unfair to the people of East Topeka and south-central Topeka that their neighborhoods are being, I would say, abandoned.”

Hendrix wants to see more investment in his district and said “debilitated neighborhoods” isn’t the way to attract it. He added that better enforcement of city codes can make neighborhoods more appealing for prospective investors.

What experiences do you have that prepared you for Topeka City Council?

Hendrix said his time as a high school journalist kept him engaged politically.

“Some student newspapers you see, you’ve got polls like, Coke or Pepsi? My newspaper is, what (are) your thoughts on gun control?” Hendrix said. “We were kinda pushing the boundaries on things.”

Since graduating in 2019, Hendrix has been working in retail as he prepares for college. His plan is to attend Washburn Tech to become a legal office assistant before transferring to Washburn University to study either public administration or political science.

“Whatever the results may be, I think it is going to be an interesting election,” Hendrix said. “It is my first election. It will not be my last.”