Washburn freshman vying for City Council

Zach Haney, a Topeka native and 19-year-old entrepreneur known for his Carnival Guy business, is running for Topeka City Council.

“I have been discussing ways to strengthen the bond among millennials and the city of Topeka,” Haney said. “When I heard that my district seat was open, I knew it was now or four years from now. I am inspired to add a fresh perspective to the city council.”

Having also recently won the Washburn Business School’s Elevator Pitch Competition with his haunted house idea, “Night Terrors,” Haney has chosen to place priority on his political campaign.

“While I would love to pursue ‘Night Terrors’ haunted house, right now the idea is sitting on the back burner. I might possibly pick up the idea once the election is finished. I found that there was a lot of interest for starting an attraction like that in Topeka,” Haney said.

However, while putting aside his “Night Terrors” business, Haney will balance running his campaign while running his Carnival Guy business, with support. He believes that his campaign has allowed for more exposure for his company, but is currently only attending events and meetings with prospective clients for it.

Zach wants to provide a voice for millennials in the city of Topeka, should he be elected. In particular, he hopes to encourage entrepreneurship among millennials as well.

“I wanted to find a way to encourage millennial retention among students and young professionals. As a small business owner, I am a strong supporter for the growth and development of small businesses,” Haney said. “I want to find projects and organizations that are promoting entrepreneurship and offer those to area high schools and people of Topeka.”

The political up-and-comer also sees benefits stemming from recent downtown improvements.

“I would like to see our downtown become the hub for small business creation. If the city can work with business owners and hear their concerns we will create an environment that is a healthy place to start and grow a business.”

Aside from encouraging support for local startups, Haney also provides an interesting view on the rise of Wal-Mart and Dillons stores competing in Topeka, on how they might help with “adding a fresh light to the area.”

“I have seen studies that Wal-Mart is responsible for taking over business when they come to town. We now have a cleaner and more attractive Dillons store because they wish to compete with Wal-Mart,” Haney said. “Other businesses around Wal-Mart are excited to ‘cleanup’ and provide more for people on this side of town.”

Additionally, a neighborhood cleanup plan is in the campaign plan.

“The abandoned houses and buildings in Topeka are only an eyesore and distraction to the beautiful things our city has to offer. Unfortunately, often times the reason the city is unable to move forward in the demolition of the property is because they are unable to locate the property owner. I wish to speed up that process,” said Haney.

Zach also wants to push for more support for the Fire and Police department of Topeka.

“I do not believe our fire and police lack the tools they need, but there is a connection which must be made among Topekans and the local departments,” Haney said. “At one time, firefighters use to be able to pay another firefighter to cover a few hours or their entire shift. Instead of calling in sick, they could use their colleagues to cover if they had to be off for example: a basketball game or special event. I believe we should allow firefighters this option. All in all, I stand to support the people who are providing the ability for me to live in a safe capital city.”

Altogether, Haney wants his campaign to serve Topeka in the best way possible.

“As a city, we should be focusing on the future of our citizens,” Haney said.

Looking beyond his city council position, Zach also hopes for the beginning of a career in politics and public service.

“I am unable to say if I would seek another term on the City Council because I have not been elected, but I will say that one day I wish to serve the state of Kansas in the United States Senate,” Haney said.

The Primary Elections for City Council for Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 will be held on March 3 and the General Election for the top two candidates from each district will be held on April 7.