Topeka's mayor announces run for Kansas 2nd District seat against Steve Watkins

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The Democratic mayor of Topeka has kicked off a campaign to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Steve Watkins.

Michelle De La Isla told The Topeka Capital-Journal that she would concentrate on access to health care, job creation and infrastructure in advance of her formal announcement Monday that she is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat. The district includes Topeka, Lawrence, Ottawa, Leavenworth and Pittsburg.

De La Isla, 43, became the first Latina to be elected mayor of Topeka in 2017 and joined the Topeka City Council in 2013. She previously was the diversity coordinator for the utility company Evergy, as well as the executive director at Topeka Habitat for Humanity and chief financial officer at Housing and Credit Counseling in Topeka.

Her announcement came after Democrat Abbie Hodgson, of Lawrence, withdrew from the 2nd District campaign in October.

Watkins was elected in 2018 to the seat by defeating Democratic challenger Paul Davis, a former state legislator from Lawrence, by less than 1 percentage point. Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner is challenging him in the primary.

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