Do you believe a new police headquarters facility is needed, and if so, are you open to considering a property tax or sales tax increase to fund the facility?
"We are a long way away from deciding funding sources for a new police headquarters facility. First we need to explore our entire 'emergency services' system, and fill any gaps that exist now for our police, fire, hospital and county jail services, especially with regards to mental health issues. When we have determined these gaps, we can then look at collaboration and joint funding. We absolutely do need to address the deferred maintenance issues of our police facilities now, and perhaps explore expanding our current facilities at 15th & Wakarusa."
"Our police officers should have the facilities, equipment and personnel necessary to protect and serve our community, and to be safe in the performance of their jobs. I’ve listened to the public discussion, met with law enforcement, and toured the existing police facilities. I am convinced that new facilities are needed. Before exploring a tax increase, we should work to find a way to finance needed improvements out of our existing infrastructure and capital improvement funds. We should also be open to other creative funding options as an alternative to increasing taxes."
"As a city commissioner I have studied this issue in great detail and visited our facilities, talked with police officers in my office and listened to Chief Khatib discussing their needs. I am fully supportive of a Police Station. I believe its possible without raising taxes. If we take the money that is set aside for the Police by the city, use city owned land, delay some noncritical capital improvement projects and use the one cent sales tax when the public health building and our golf course bonds are retired this should allow us a new facility without raising taxes."
"I have toured the facilities and have seen where the inadequacies exist. I believe that public safety is a primary role of the commission and therefore want to address these inadequacies, but I also believe we have a fiscally responsible role to make sure we don’t just accept the first proposal presented before us. I believe presenting the issue as a sales tax vote was disingenuous. If we TRULY believe that this is a priority for the city, why can’t we find room in a budget that is more than $170 million? I would look to the existing funding first."
"Yes, a new facility is necessary. The city can fund this need through changing around priorities on the Capital Improvement Plan and then using existing sales tax revenue that becomes available in a few years to completely fund the project, thereby eliminating the need to increase sales or property tax."
"Yes, I’m convinced we can achieve many efficiencies with a single police facility. Although I believe we can accomplish the goal without increasing taxes, I would consider an increase in sales tax, IF the monies are dedicated and the tax sunsets after the debt for the facility is retired. I believe we can pay for the new facility with the proceeds of the sale of unused city-owned property and reserve funds."
The city in 2014 approved a new registration and licensing program for apartments and other rental units in the city. It is set to begin inspections in July. Do you support the program as approved?
"I believe public safety should be a top priority of the commissioners, but I do have some reservations with regulating homes the same as restaurants, in that once a lease is signed a rental property is someone’s home, not a public space. As such, I have some concerns about the legality, with regards to 4th amendment rights, that the city has in inspecting people’s homes without probable cause. I would not vote to kill the registration program, but would like to see the registration program put more resources into investigating tenant complaints, perhaps by setting up an anonymous complaint hotline."
"The jury is still out on whether the present program will achieve the desired results of improving housing standards. I do believe the Community Health Plan suggests many ways we can improve standards. And while there are some landlords who take advantage of people, most landlords I know treat their properties with pride and their tenants with honesty. I look forward to seeing the reports of the functionality of the program."
"Yes I do support the rental registration and licensing program as approved. I believe that city staff has done an excellent job of addressing concerns on both sides of the issue. Safe rental housing is important for all people in Lawrence, especially for our low-income citizens and university students, and this program helps ensure that."
"I wholeheartedly support this program. This is about public health and safety. I pushed hard for passage when this regulation was voted on. This public issue was addressed using no tax dollars. We have 172 completed inspections with a 77% failure rate. 129 violations were lacking smoke alarms and 65 GFCI receptacles which are easily corrected with very little cost and more importantly, lifesaving. Windows that didn’t open, window locks and nonfunctioning plumbing fixtures were common. There was a 76% reinspection rate with a 76% correction rate. This program was needed and already successfully facilitating needed safety improvements ."
"Because rental licensing and inspection is focused on safety of the tenant, I generally support the rental inspection program. The success of this program requires the city to ensure safe and livable rental housing, without imposing arbitrary penalties on property owners. The inspection program should be carefully monitored so that it is applied fairly and stays focused on health and safety issues."
In Rock Chalk Park, the city entered into a public-private partnership and is paying for about $12M worth of infrastructure exempted from a bidding process. Do you support public-private partnerships that involve the city paying for work that was not bid?
"I was not on the city commission when this this public-private partnership with the KU was fashioned. This partnership had several flaws which were unintended by well-meaning previous city commissioners. It is obvious to me and all Lawrence citizens that every project has to be bid. I did not then nor can I now support a no-bid process for city projects. As a pediatrician supporting public health I am extremely supportive of the final project. 80,000 visitors to rock chalk Park in January 2015 can't be wrong. I don't support the process. I do support healthy citizens."
"I believe transparency is an absolute necessity for representative government to function properly. As a commissioner, one of my first actions would be to look to enact legislation mandating that the city openly bid any public expenditure on any publicly-funded project. The fact that our commission can spend taxpayer money without any paper trail demonstrating that we are getting what we paid for is unacceptable. We should not have had to go back AFTER the fact to perform the audit of RCP. This should have been done openly on the front-end."
"This project was unique in that KU wished to host their 2014 Relays at Rock Chalk Park. Doing so meant that the infrastructure and stadiums needed to be built at the same time. As a financial control, we compared invoices submitted for work completed to two recently bid city projects. Like quantities (such as 100 ft. of sidewalk, 100 ft. of waterline, 100 ft. of curb, etc.) were compared against the previously bid projects and were approved for payment if they corresponded favorably. Because of this comparison, the city reduced the payment for some invoices. In the future, however, I would only authorize a public bid on all public projects, because the other process lacked clarity for the public to feel comfortable with it."
"No, I do not support partnerships that involve non-competitive bids for construction projects paid for by the tax payer. Perhaps we need to look at updating our policies to ensure that any future public-private partnerships require competitive bidding processes. We have a great opportunity now to learn from what went wrong with Rock Chalk Park, and prevent those mistakes from happening again with future projects."
"No. I cannot conceive any situation where the city’s present standard bidding process should be waived."
"No, I do not support the city entering into no-bid contracts. The lesson learned from Rock Chalk Park is that no-bid contracts are not open and transparent and do not instill confidence in the public that we are getting value for our money spent. We need to make sure we do not put our City and our tax dollars in this type of situation again."
In 2014 the city approved tax rebates for projects in East Lawrence, downtown and near the KU campus that were either wholly or largely for apartment development. Do you support providing tax incentives for apartment development?
"The Poehler building is a great project that involved the positive elements of repurposing existing infrastructure, renewable energy and affordable housing. I have not seen those elements in other residential development. Public money that comes from tax incentives should come with strings attached, and these strings need to benefit the public good in positive ways. If there is no public benefit to a project, other than increased property tax and a hope for 'trickle down' economics in the form of increased restaurant and bar sales, then it needs to remain a privately funded project."
"No. Incentives should be used to create jobs, not apartments."
"Put simply, absolutely not. The purpose of a tax abatement is to lure industry that doesn’t presently exist and that will bring about a large number of jobs. Apartments do not meet either of these two qualifications. Operating in a free market system, there is already ample demand for apartments to be built without the city giving away tax incentives. A classic example of poor leadership in this area was the granting of an 85% tax abatement for the ‘Here at Kansas’ project led by an out-of-state developer that built a large apartment building across from the football stadium."
"I support a well reasoned and judicious use of tax abatements. The low income projects in East Lawrence produced affordable high quality housing. Mixed use apartment projects and a new Hotel have invigorated the downtown. The Public Incentive Review Committee carefully analyzed data and stated that there would be a significant return on each dollar used as an incentive and bring new tax dollars to Lawrence citizens. As long as we can justify incentives, improve our tax base and return dollars to the citizens I will seriously consider using incentives but only if it is justified."
"Our first priority for tax incentives should be focused on bringing quality businesses and primary jobs to our community to create opportunity and prosperity for all of our residents. When considering tax abatement, each request should be judged on its own merits. With the abundance of apartments in our town, I expect in the future that very few apartment-only projects will satisfy the city-approved criteria for tax abatement: meeting approved economic development standards, enhancing downtown, promoting infill, incorporating environmentally sustainable elements into the design, and providing other public benefits to the community."
"The East Lawrence project was for affordable housing and helped to revitalize a blighted area, and I supported that project. The Downtown Lawrence project fulfills a long-term goal of establishing living units in the central business district in order to help the downtown sustain itself, and I supported that project. I did not vote in favor of the 11th & Indiana project that would build luxury apartments for the upper 2%. I decide tax rebate questions on a case by case situation."
The city last year opened Lawrence VenturePark, the new business park built on the former Farmland Industries site in eastern Lawrence. Do you support the idea of providing tax abatements and other financial incentives to attract businesses to that park?
"I would address each proposal on the merits of the plan. If the proposal provides good-paying jobs and benefits for our citizens and pays for itself in benefit for the community, I would look at the project approvingly."
"When used wisely and thoughtfully, tax abatements and other financial incentives can be part of an overall strategy to attract quality businesses and primary jobs to Venture Park. At the same time, we need to be fair to our existing businesses and understand that most projects should be able to succeed on their own merits. I am optimistic that Venture Park will help give Lawrence an advantage when competing with other communities for new industrial development. A successful Venture Park will help create jobs, widen the tax base, and improve our local economy."
"Yes I am very much in favor of incentives we can offer at VenturePark, such as free land and property tax abatements, to companies creating permanent full-time jobs with benefits. Amarr and Grandstand in East Hills Business Park have been great example of incentives that have directly led to the creation of permanent, full-time jobs with benefits. I would be interested in how we can encourage “worker amenities” to locate at VenturePark and East Hills Business Park, such as daycare services and food trucks. I believe that would help attract large businesses and manufacturers to re-locate there."
"The conditions which the commission should consider when considering the use of tax incentives are two-fold. First, does the project bring about new industry that does NOT presently exist in the community? Secondly, does the project create a very large number of living wage, with benefits jobs for the community? If the answer to either question is “no” tax incentives should not be used. It is important that the industry be one that does not currently exist so that the city commission does not provide a competitive advantage for one business over another existing competitor already established in Lawrence."
"Lawrence is a wonderful city and many outside businesses investigate expansion into our community because of this fact. In my discussion with other cities , I conclude that a great community and a strong school system with a good workforce is essential to getting our foot in the door. The Dwayne Peaslee center for technical education and the school systems new tech center are an absolute necessity for us to bring new businesses to Lawrence. However, today’s market emphasizes profitability and public incentives carefully used are necessity to close the deal. So I would support the use of reasonable and thoughtful incentives."
In 2015, the city is budgeted to provide about $220,000 to the Lawrence chamber of commerce to lead the community’s economic development efforts. Do you support that arrangement with the chamber?
"In the past the chamber has had at best mixed results for recruiting large businesses to Lawrence. However with the appointment of Larry McElwain and his expert and very active homegrown staff there emphasis has changed dramatically the focus of the Chamber of Commerce. This is best evidenced by the Dwayne Peaslee center which has been championed by the chamber and provides us with a technical workforce that will bring new jobs to Lawrence. The chamber is now focusing hard on small business entrepreneurship still supporting large business expansion. This new direction causes me to be both supportive and optimistic."
"I support the chamber’s economic development initiatives so long as their primary focus is on supporting existing business. Too often, in an effort to lure the next ‘greatest’ thing to Lawrence, we forget that 85% of all new jobs are created by businesses that already exist. I want to make sure our commission supports existing business before we expend effort luring competitors. I am proud of the Chamber for their recent re-evaluation of priorities found within the 'Community Economic Strategic Plan' which prioritizes assisting existing business over luring new business. I would expect their actions to support their words."
"I do support the city contributing to the Chamber’s economic development efforts. As long as the chamber keeps those public monies received from the city & county separate from funds received from their membership and advertising sources, I am comfortable with this arrangement. Since the chamber receives taxpayer monies, I do have concerns with any direct political advocacy by the Chamber."
"I support a relationship between the City and the Chamber of Commerce, because the Chamber serves an important economic role in our Community. The Chamber is the primary entity providing direct assistance to help Lawrence businesses achieve financial success and expand their operations, and in turn, those businesses provide jobs and economic opportunities for many Lawrence residents. In addition, the Chamber engages in community-wide economic development efforts and works with the state legislature to give Lawrence another voice in Topeka. A healthy relationship between the City and the Chamber of Commerce contributes to a healthy Lawrence economy."
"Yes. Furthermore, the Chamber has been successful in acquiring private funds to supplement the program. They are to be applauded."
"Yes, in the last year, there has been a huge change in the Chamber for the better. The Chamber is the economic sales force for the City and County that is marketing Lawrence to the outside world. I truly believe we are now getting our money’s worth."
In 2008 voters approved a three-tenths of a percent sales tax to fund city-street maintenance and other infrastructure projects. How would you rate the condition of city streets today?
"I think the city has done well with street improvements and maintenance. It seems our recurring street issues have more to do with foundational issues with the soil underneath, such as Kasold Street. I would like to see the city begin to spend more funds on brick street maintenance in the historic core of our city. Perhaps we can also use these funds to improve our sidewalks as well."
"Of the projects that have been completed so far, I rate the street improvement as excellent. More work still needs to be accomplished."
"Look around and see the tremendous improvements of our city streets, are infrastructure for water both waste and for drinking using tax monies. The reconstruction of the intersections at 23rd and Iowa, sixth in Iowa, 15th in Iowa and Wakarusa are just three of these planned improvements with many more to come. The double inlet system for drinking water from the Kaw, the 36 inch water line pulled under the river to give duplicate water source to North Lawrence and subsequently south Lawrence are just two examples of anticipating public needs and meeting them correctly. This is a slam dunk improvement."
"There is always room for improvement, and city infrastructure should remain a top priority for the city commission, but since 2008 we have completed major road improvement projects on many of Lawrence’s major roads, including 6th, 23rd, 31st and Kasold Drive leaving the overall condition of Lawrence roads better than they have been in quite some time. Given the road work completed, I think it may be time to shift the priority of infrastructure funding to other aspects of infrastructure such as our outdated, in some cases hundred year old sewer systems, and sidewalks."
"Overall, I think the quality of Lawrence streets is very high, especially when compared to other Kansas communities. While it may be frustrating at times to have to dodge potholes or detour around road maintenance projects, I think the city street maintenance staff works hard to keep up with the demands of street repair. I will continue to have high expectations that they will do a good job of prioritizing and distributing street improvement and maintenance projects around the community."
"Most streets are in good condition, but several still need attention. We must make certain to keep the streets in good condition. If we were to defer maintenance, we would pay multiples of the original amount of maintenance. As the old ad used to say, 'You can pay me now, or pay me later.'"
In 2014 the city built a new dual-lane roundabout on Wakarusa Drive, and is considering building more in the future. Do you support the use of roundabouts in the city?
"I have mixed feelings about roundabouts. Some are successful, such as at 19th & Barker, but some were an unnecessary expense, such as the two large ones on Kasold Street, north of Peterson Road. I was very concerned about a two-lane roundabout on Wakarusa, especially in using eminent domain to purchase land from adjacent property owners. Let’s give ourselves a little time to learn from this newly built one, especially in terms of design layout and pedestrian/bike safety, before plunging into another 2-lane roundabout project."
"While there are certainly some locations where roundabouts have made sense, I believe the city’s fascination with building them has led us to put them anywhere and everywhere we possibly can. As such, I do not support the broad expansion of roundabouts throughout the community. Roundabouts are an incredibly costly alternative to a 4-way stop and can present great difficulties to our fire and medical responders in navigating their narrow passageways. In crafting a budget, roundabouts should be treated as a luxury we pursue only if extra money exists. These are not a high priority."
"Statistics indicated roundabouts reduce accidents and congestion. But I believe roundabouts should be installed during the construction or reconstruction of a street, not after a street has been resurfaced. Retrofitting roundabouts in existing neighborhoods presents significant obstacles in achieving enough space and less inconvenience to the neighborhood."
"Children hate shots, citizens hate roundabouts but just because we don't like them doesn't mean they are bad. Safety first. There are 16 conflict points at a four-way stop and four conflict points at roundabout. Four-way stops cause high impact T-bone collisions with severe injuries and roundabouts are minor rear end with minor injuries. Roundabouts produce less CO2. I travel Wakarusa daily and see up to 20 cars stopped at Harvard and at most one car at the roundabout. Although I hate roundabouts there safer for our citizens and the environment by scientific studies. Let's go with safety."
"I generally support the use of roundabouts in Lawrence in locations where they make sense. Studies have shown that roundabouts are able to move more cars per hour through an intersection than a 4-way stop. In addition, roundabouts are safer because, in the event of an accident, cars are moving at a slower speed and t-bone crashes are eliminated. Roundabouts also help reduce air pollution by reducing idling time of vehicles. Although roundabouts may make sense, cost and disruption of construction must also be weighed against the benefits before expanding our use of roundabouts to new Lawrence locations."
"Yes. They are safer and more economical than traffic signals and move vehicles in a more efficient manner."
Based on current city capital improvement plans, the city is scheduled to spend about $3M in 2015-2016 on a project to rebuild part of Ninth Street in an effort to make the area into an “arts corridor.” As currently proposed, do you support the project?
"Yes—absolutely. Ninth Street is 'beat up' and is on the rebuild list. This 'arts project'—with art integrated into the design phase of the street engineering—has the potential to become one of Lawrence’s greatest assets. We are fortunate to have received a $500,000 grant to produce this project."
"Yes, provided the neighbors are partners in the project."
"I do support the 9th street corridor project though I want to make sure that the concerns of neighbors are addressed and not suppressed. In addition to the ‘arts’ element of the project which builds upon the unique character of the area, the project provides long needed infrastructure improvements such as proper roads, sidewalks and lighting to an area that has been widely ignored for decades. What I'd like to focus the city money on is infrastructure such as sidewalks, lighting and streets. Getting the arts community and tourism would be simply a benefit to such investments."
"I support the proposed 9th Street Arts Corridor project because it brings together three things we value in our community: a vibrant downtown, support for arts and culture, and respect for our history and heritage. With inclusive community input and sensitivity to residents who will be directly affected, the 9th Street project will bring lasting benefits to Lawrence by helping build a richer, more intimate, and more vibrant connection between East Lawrence & Downtown. The project also has potential to expand the creative economy in Lawrence by melding entrepreneurship and the arts and providing opportunities for new creative businesses."
"This project is really a corridor that connects downtown to the arts district and will energize both areas. Using complete streets will encourage walking, biking and safe automobile travel. It will incorporate art projects that are made by local and national artist. We have a $500,000 grant to reduce the price making it even a better value. Most importantly this project showed how the citizens of East Lawrence voiced their concerns for unintended changes to their community lifestyle and We listened creating a task force that takes those worries into serious consideration. It’s a big win for the entire city."
"More input and information is needed before the city fully commits to this project by diverting funds already budgeted to other infrastructure projects in our capital improvement plan. Does the city need to spend $3 million to rebuild East 9th Street in order to realize the 'art corridor' project? Could we save money by using our venues & businesses that already exist downtown? Is this truly a 'need', or is it just a 'want'? As the saying goes, 'the devil is in the details', but the project does have the potential to benefit Lawrence."
The city has been asked to approve financial incentives to spur the installation of gigabit, super-fast broadband service. Do you support the idea of an incentive to private companies interested in providing enhanced broadband services to the community?
"At this time, I believe there are businesses willing to competitively bid to provide enhanced high-speed internet service in Lawrence. While the City has an inherent oversight role when leasing its fiber network, I currently see no need to consider the use of financial incentives. If the market fails to respond, we can consider other options, but for now, before contributing City tax dollars to the effort, I think we should start the process to solicit bids from providers who are willing to invest in providing high-speed internet to our community that is reliable, predictable, consistent, and secure."
"Fiber access to all Lawrence Citizens is paramount for me. Access to gigabytes fiber will bring new businesses to Lawrence and also allow expansion of existing businesses requiring this. We own a ring of fiber around the city with excess capacity and can be rented to companies at low cost, this being a great incentive. Utilizing access to city right-of-way as an incentive is also smart. Building out a system for the city is too costly and best left to private companies with incentivizing their buildout as above with some incentives as mentioned above. Incentives only if necessary."
"As a general rule, I believe private enterprise is best suited to meeting the needs of the purchasing public. If there is substantial public need and not a general public need, I believe business can best assess the need and the ability to service that need."
"Our city absolutely needs to take an active role and prioritize fiber-optic Internet services. I feel we need to begin exploring the option of offering it as a public utility by the city. To me that is the safest, fairest and most secure option available. We need to look at what other cities are doing, and then learn from their successes and mistakes. We could make it cost-neutral by charging user fees, and by phasing in implementation, prevent a huge initial price tag. Incentivizing private companies should be more of a last ditch effort, rather than a first effort."
"While the development of gigabit broadband internet service is without question an initiative I support in Lawrence, I do NOT support the city offering loan guarantees to a private business or private individual for the development of such a program, particularly when private investors who are seeking no public incentives exist. While it appears broadband service will ultimately have to be regulated as a utility we must be careful in crafting our city’s fiber policy in such a way that we do not deter private internet companies and investors from being attracted to Lawrence."
"I support the establishment of gigabit, superfast broadband service. It is apparent to me that in order to reach this position, as demonstrated by our consulting firm, that the city will have to participate financially in some way. I would support an incentive by building out the middle mile of fiber and then opening that asset up to the provider that can deploy the fiber system."
What is the biggest issue facing Lawrence neighborhoods?
"There are different neighborhoods with different needs. East Lawrence needs sidewalks, safe streets and support for their older homes with low cost city services. Oread has many needs with parking and rental blight being very important. West Lawrence requires thoughtful development of open land and repair of high volume streets suffering from overuse. I could go on and on but am limited by 100 words."
"I think our biggest challenge, and opportunity, is to maintain and protect the individual character of each of our neighborhoods while moving forward in a way that keeps Lawrence strong for the future. I’ve lived in different parts of Lawrence over my life, and I’ve learned that our differences don’t have to be divisive if we listen and support each other with a view toward the well-being of the community as a whole. We have a wonderfully diverse community, but it can present challenges when we work to create public policy that serves all of our residents fairly."
"Low wage and salary growth prohibits money being reinvested in our older housing stock."
"Many of our neighborhoods face an issue of equity in the area of service availability. As a city commissioner, your role is to ensure that public safety and access to infrastructure are available to all parts of Lawrence, and as such we must look to see if we are providing adequate police and fire protection to all parts of Lawrence. I believe upon closer inspection we will find that fire services to North Lawrence may be inadequate. In addition, access to grocery in the Northeastern portion of Lawrence seems to be a pressing concern for many of our neighbors."
"The biggest issue facing Lawrence neighborhoods is having a limited voice in city government, and not being able to rely on the city to follow existing codes and city planning documents. Quality of life concerns are often marginalized when up against large investment interests. Too many exceptions are given to developers which has created a highly politicized atmosphere at City Hall. Projects greatly benefit from strong research, public planning and full transparency. Rock Chalk Park would have benefited from a more open and thorough process from step one, which would have avoided the ugly questions and need for audits today."
"I do not know of any one issue facing all of our neighborhoods. I think each neighborhood is unique, endowed with its own assets and challenges. Perhaps, the most general issue facing our neighborhoods is assuring our tax dollars are efficiently and effectively spent. My 32 years as an IRS agent can bring my analysis skills to the Commission."
Given the other needs of the city, what is the likelihood that you would support additional funding for trails, bike lanes and other pedestrian-oriented projects in the community?
"I am for health and safety of the of the citizens of Lawrence as a pediatrician. It makes great good sense to me to create trails for walking, safe bike lanes for both exercise and as a mode of transportation. We already have in place a route that almost encircles the city now we should finish this and create safe paths to schools and work for children and adults. I support this type of transportation for many reasons but once again it must be done with careful planning and careful use of tax dollars."
"Since 1993, when I was on the Horizon 2020 Environmental Quality and Natural Resources Group, I have advocated for Lawrence to have an interconnected trail system. My family uses the hiking and biking trails around Lawrence on a regular basis. While I like having hiking and biking trails in our community and feel that they add to our quality of life, we need to properly prioritize our city spending to place needs ahead of wants. That’s why it’s important to pursue creative funding opportunities like matching grants and partnerships so that we maximize our dollars spent for these amenities."
"Non-motorized transportation projects need a renewable source of revenue each year. I support a line item in the CIP or general budget in order to improve the infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists."
"Developing a pedestrian-friendly community is a great way to make a good city a great community. However, the costs associated with such projects can often times be prohibitively expensive. I would therefore recommend tying pedestrian-oriented improvement projects into existing infrastructure redevelopment work, as was done with the re-paving of 9th street recently. By doing it this way, we are able to improve upon the pedestrian-friendly nature of city without having to pay to tear up and redo perfectly good existing infrastructure. "
"We need to give consideration to establishing walking and bicycling as a means of transportation, not just recreation. The Community Health Plan addresses this and we should begin implementing the recommendations."
Given the city's other needs, what is the likelihood that you would support city assistance for a new conference center in the community? (Disclosure: Members of the company that owns the LJW have proposed a downtown project including a conference center)
"I would be very much in support of a conference center but only if we can afford it. We have many other needs that have to be met before we consider a convention center. This might be a good example of trying to think out-of-the-box and encourage private rather than public investment. Public investment could be considered but only after we take care of our police needs and other infrastructure projects that need to be funded. There are ways of public support without great public cost in our city toolbox that can be used here."
"I would support a conference center that did not raise taxes as long as it was established in the downtown."
"The ultimate question is this: How many and what kinds of permanent full-time jobs with benefits will this convention center create? Economic development policies should be used to create those kinds of jobs as an immediate, primary outcome. Perhaps partnering with KU might be a fruitful partnership for the convention center developers to explore. I have been disappointed to see our current City Commissioners use public incentives to subsidize luxury student housing and hotels. We need to raise the bar higher when using tax payer monies."
"A comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan needs to be organized and updated regularly with input from the public. The Conference Center could be a significant asset for our community, but it must be weighed against all needs and the ability to fund those needs. Assistance from the City can be weighed in many other ways, other than financial."
"I am open to the idea of a city supported conference center, but do not believe this should be a top budget priority. There could be economic benefits to the city participating in the development of a conference center. However, in that some of our past city involved projects, such as the Riverfront Plaza, have turned out to be utter failures, I would want to take a long look at the proposal before I would lend my support to it. Without seeing specifics, this is not a project that I would blindly lend my support to."
"I think the proposed conference center located at the north end of downtown has great potential to enhance both the quality of our downtown experience and the financial viability of downtown. A regular and steady stream of out of town visitors who are spending their money shopping and dining downtown will lure more retail back to downtown and will strengthen the financial potential for all of our existing downtown businesses."
In 2014 there were six homicides in Lawrence, the highest number in at least a decade. Is there anything the Lawrence City Commission can do to improve public safety in the community?
"The City Commission can help improve safety in a variety of ways, such as providing the police department with the facilities, equipment and personnel they need to serve our community, requiring proper lighting for new and redeveloped properties, supporting neighborhood watch programs, and encouraging citizens to work collaboratively with the Police Department to take an active role in keeping their neighborhoods safe. In addition, we should have high expectations of our city staff and police officers for enforcing the law consistently and fairly throughout our community."
"As our community grows, the growth of crime is statistically predictable. As a city commission we cannot control the actions of individuals, but can make sure that our response to such crime is efficient and effective. This can be done by making sure we provide our police department with adequate resources, training and staffing. In addition, as the state has dumped the issue into the laps of cities, it will be important for Lawrence to properly address mental health issues within our community. We can either treat the problem or we can continue to pay to incarcerate those in need."
"We need to provide our police department with the tools essential to protecting our neighborhoods. The recent approval of police dogs is one efficient use of resources. We must also provide the police with the ability to track and predict crime using existing or, if necessary, improved data collection methods."
"I am very concerned about the homicides in Lawrence Kansas. We need to first look at the root causes of these incidents and try to solve them. We also need to support our police as stated above because they need adequate facilities that allows them to protect us. We should encourage every citizen to participate in reporting unsafe activity and inform officials of unsafe and dangerous situations. Citizen involvement encouraged by the Commission is cheap and effective. Prevention is a must. Safety First."
"We need to have sufficient police manpower and provide the proper facilities for our public safety personnel."
"Absolutely City Commissioners can do more to improve public safety in our community. I truly believe that mental health issues are related to public safety and must become a major City Commission goal and budget priority. We must work in collaboration with the county and schools. Let’s talk about solutions: creating a 'crisis stabilization center' with the county, fully funding the WRAP program in public schools, and actively investigating supportive housing alternatives with on-site case management. I am very excited to participate in this public safety conversation, as I see many potential healthy outcomes for our community."
A proposal has been made by a development group to create a major new retail area just south of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Iowa Street interchange? Are you supportive of rezoning property for major new retail developments in the community?
"Yes, as long as we don’t degrade other established commercial areas."
"Rezoning of undeveloped land is not uncommon and is often expected along the fringes of our city limits. As the K-10/SLT project is completed, we should expect a number of development proposals along this route. We must get this right, because we will live with the consequences of these development decisions for decades to come. For this reason, I am advocating that the City planning staff and Planning Commission prepare a corridor development plan so that we can properly assess the implications of how we should direct the zoning along the K-10/SLT corridors."
"This developer has withdrawn this request. It was excellent proposal to bring new tax dollars to Lawrence. It was also a complicated plan because it significantly increased commercial/retail space that is far above city recommendations for this area. Despite this difficulty, I truly believe that this node will be developed in a very appropriate way in the near future and I would be supportive of a project similar to the one that has been withdrawn from discussion when that occurs. We cannot say yes/no unless we have a project before us that can be judged on its merits."
"I think it’s important to have a project fully on the table before rezoning property. Zoning changes may come into direct opposition to a neighborhood plan or city plan that already exists. New major retail development must also take into consideration the actual retail needs of the city and any potential negative impact on existing businesses and our historic downtown. We have a comprehensive plan already, and there would need to be very compelling and concrete economic outcomes to deviate from that plan."
"Each proposal must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, considering many factors, including impact on surrounding areas, investment required by the city, and several other issues. I am prepared to assess each project on its own merits."
"I am in support of the Southpoint development and have grown frustrated by the way this project was allowed to stall out by our commission. The group of investors looking to develop this area were seeking no tax incentives or public subsidies but rather were simply looking for approval to break ground on a project that would create jobs and economic development in the community. This is the exact type of economic development we need, given the growing demand that completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway will create."
What’s your vision for the type of community Lawrence will become in the next decade?
"Under my leadership, I envision Lawrence re-establishing priorities. We will shift the focus from short-term impulsive decisions that create large amounts of immediate debt to an approach of more long-term, fiscally responsible planning. I imagine a Lawrence where our economic playing field is leveled by our decision to allow the free market to work instead of allowing our commissioners to pick and choose winners and losers as they do now through the granting of public incentives to private companies and developers. I imagine a place where the focus is less on building a city and more on building a community."
"My vision for Lawrence starts with new leadership that will prioritize the people and businesses that are already here in Lawrence. The future of our city must address the needs of the 21st century in terms of infrastructure, jobs, health, safety, and education. Our community is constantly being infused by youthful energy and creative ideas with the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University, so we can become innovators with 21st century solutions. So let’s stop being the caboose, and start being the engine for positive change!"
"My vision for Lawrence in ten years is not different than what I want for Lawrence right now. I want Lawrence to continue to be a thriving, diverse, inclusive, positive, safe, and creative community where you can pursue an education, own a successful business, build a successful career, raise and support your family, connect with your neighbors, enjoy stimulating arts and culture, and live a healthy and productive life. I’m proud of Lawrence and optimistic about our future. I think we can continue to be the greatest place to live in Kansas."
"We must concentrate on meeting the many needs of our citizens, not the least of which is jobs. We must find new jobs to provide income and benefits for our families. We cannot afford another decade with virtually zero job growth. Technology and needs can change rapidly, and I do not have the crystal ball to determine what those needs will be, but we must be poised to address those as a community."
"I see a strong downtown that continues to be the pride of the community.
I see the Sports Pavilion as being recognized as the premier amateur sports facility in the region. It brings in lots of visitors who spend lots of money.
I see the 9th street Corridor Project as our community making a very positive statement that promotes the arts and brings regional notoriety to our city.
KU will continue to be the state flagship university in Kansas and will continue to perform prestigious research and enhance student development.
Venture Park will be fully developed, offering good-paying jobs to our citizens."
"I am very excited about the possibilities for Lawrence to rise from the ashes of the great recent recession and boldly move forward as a city. We have a great foundation of city projects that promote health and safety for our citizens and we need to build upon them. To me the most important emphasis would be placed on engaging our citizens and regaining their trust. Trust is built by actions not by words. YOU DONT SHRINK A CITY TO GREATNESS so lets rebuild trust by Commission actions, involve citizens in a proactive way and move forward as a city."