Lawrence City Commission candidate James Bush to chat with readers

March 24, 2009

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.


Hi. I'm your moderator Chad Lawhorn. With us today is City Commission candidate James Bush. We have a few questions lined up, but are still accepting more from the audience. Thanks for being here, James.

James Bush:

Thanks Chad, I'm looking forward to our conversation this afternoon.


What's your stance on the gender equality ordinance?

James Bush:

Because I am a former pastor, I have found that some people expect me to oppose the new ordinance presented to the city commission. Let me say here, I wholeheartedly support the inclusion of gender identity as a protected class in the ordinance. Simply equal should be just that - that as a community, our common denominator is that we are all equal.


most of the other candidates have been in the community, many of them with decades long business ties & experience in the interface between town & gown.

since you are a relative newcomer and with a previous focus from the perspective of clergy vs.
actual business experience in lawrence - why do you believe that your views would protect
Douglas County long term values vs. simply what appears to be from you short term chambercrat boosterism?

James Bush:

First, I do not believe longevity in a community either qualifies or disqualifies a candidate for public office. Second, Lawrence is my home, my family is firmly planted in the community, and we have invested ourselves here. My children attend Lawrence public schools, my wife and I volunteer in a variety of ways. For example, I serve on the Board of Headquarters Counseling Center, I have assisted with fundraising efforts by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County, and the list could go on. My experience as a pastor means that I have experience managing large budgets, managing staff, providing leadership and direction within a volunteer community. I know what it means to have the decisions I make effect the lives of others. Finally, I believe my integrity and willingness to serve are without question.


The City Commission has considered two proposals for street renaming on an ad hoc basis in recent months.

Some municipalities have formal policies prohibiting changing of legal addresses permitting only "secondary" honorific names. Some municipalities prohibit honorific renaming of streets for living people. Some municipalities require threshold support of 50-100% of area residents and landowners before a renaming may be considered. Virtually all municipalities having formal policies mandate notification, public hearing, and comment period for affected landowners and residents. Some municipalities specifically prohibit any renaming which can be construed as being critical of individuals or groups. Lawrence has no formal street
naming or renaming ordinance or policy. Should Lawrence consider adopting such policies?

James Bush:

Great question. I believe having some procedures in place could be a good idea. However, in the recent case of renaming Missouri street, we saw a city commissioner, after much investigation, present an idea, not only to fellow commissioners but to the public for debate. I think she received feedback from other commissioners as well as the community and decided to move in another direction. That is, Commissioner Hack is going to explore ways of making a street name change on the KU campus. All this took place without much of a policy in place.


I would like to know what you think about traffic control and road planning in the city. Has anyone on the Lawrence city commission or its committees ever been trained in traffic control?

For what it is worth, here's where I am coming from: The mess on West 6th street and Wak. is about to get 100 times worse when the new Walmart opens. Good luck turning left out of the Dillons parking lot. And all the curb cuts on 23rd street are a nighmare for anyone concerned about safety etc. While someone's getting rich off putting in all those calming circles, the main roads in Lawrence are getting more and more dangerous and clogged. What can be done about it now that doesn't cost more $ then we have - ?

James Bush:

Again, another great question. I am aware that our city works with/employs the services of engineering firms in Lawrence that have engineers with certification in traffic planning. That said, I think your right, the traffic situation at 6th and wakarusa will change when the new Walmart opens. Two years ago, I encouraged exploring the possibilities of connecting Bob Billings/15th Street with the SLT. Obviously, that project did not make the state list of projects to be considered. I think what Lawrence lacks is a visionary plan for the future of roads, neighborhoods, and future projects. I intend to bring a new kind of visionary leadership that plans for the future in meaningful ways.


We've about reached the end of our questions. If you want to participate by sending us a question, here's your chance. Otherwise, this next question will be the last one.


You're a pro jobs/pro growth guy, right?- How will you protect the businesses that are here now while 'growing the tax base' during these tough economic times?

James Bush:

Yes, I believe in expanding our tax base through job creation and job growth. We need sustainable growth, which means, a wide variety of jobs for a wide variety of people. Furthermore, we need to attract what are known as 'primary jobs,' those jobs that bring outside money into the city. (Whereas, secondary jobs reflect more of an 'exchange' or money in the community already.) Now, I believe a key to attracting new jobs is the success and support of employers in the community. We know that eighty percent of new jobs are created by existing business & industry. As Lawrence improves our reputation of taking better care of our Lawrence business community, new industry will take notice and consider Lawrence for expansion. So, if we take better care in supporting business and industry in Lawrence, that can draw new business to town. I believe that reflects protecting jobs in Lawrence. Furthermore, the addition of new primary jobs into Lawrence, brings new money to Lawrence, and that, too, will enhance the local economy and everyone can benefit.


What do you think should be done with the homeless population in Lawrence? Should shelters be built in residential neighborhoods? Should they be moved out of downtown? Just your initial thoughts. Thanks!

James Bush:

Thanks Raider. First, let me say I will be attending the presentation Thursday evening at Plymouth Church, and I look forward to the Homeless Coalition's report. So, initial thoughts, we cannot lump all homeless people into one category. Homelessness impacts a cross section of society. For example, there are those members of our population who suffer mental illness and due to lack of services, may find themselves homeless. And, there are those who find themselves homeless because of divorce, abuse in the home, as well as the downturn in the economy. I think a response to the need should reflect this kind of understanding and a compassion for those in need. The response of area churches through Family Promise is a wonderful way for members of the community to respond without cost to the city government. However, that is only one solution. More to the point of your question, I want the community to provide input into finding the best location for a shelter. Those are just some of my initial thoughts.


That will do it for this chat. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. And thank you, James, for participating. At the moment, our next chat is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday. It will be a chat with candidate Lance Johnson.

James Bush:

Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat. Friends, you have three votes this election. Respectfully, I ask for one of your three votes. I want the opportunity to serve you as a city commissioner. Thanks so much for participating in the online chat.


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