John Nalbandian, a Kansas University associate professor of public administration, this morning announced his candidacy for the Lawrence City Commission.
"A lot of candidates are going to be talking about team building, but it takes experience," Nalbandian said. "I teach local government. I consult with Lenexa and Olathe. I've handled a major budget as chairman of the department (of public administration). . . . I would like to use that experience and knowledge in my own community."
Nalbandian filed as a candidate at the city clerk's office this morning by paying the $10 fee. He is the third declared candidate for the April 2 commission election.
He said his campaign would focus on ways to "invest in the future with respect for the past." Two broad issues will be important, he said. They are balancing Lawrence's economic vitality with what he called its "strong sense of community," and consensus and team building, both on the commission and among residents.
NALBANDIAN said he wants to dispel the idea that economic development and a strong sense of community are mutually exclusive.
"These are not divergent forces. These can come together," he said.
He pointed to redevelopment of businesses in the 600 block of Massachusetts as an example.
"People don't see that as economic development because it adds to the sense of community," he said. "That would not have been possible without the investment made in city hall. . . . It all comes together."
Tax abatements should be viewed as a tool for shaping the city's development, he said. They can be used to influence the kinds of industry that locate in Lawrence, where they locate and the skill levels of the jobs they offer.
He said the current policy on tax abatements was good but too complicated.
"It doesn't lead to clear-cut decisions, so it's constantly being debated with the result that we have no policy," he said.
NALBANDIAN said the next four years would be particularly important as Horizon 2020, Lawrence's long-range comprehensive plan, is formulated. He said strong citizen involvement was essential to the plan's success.
Planning the Eastern Parkway and South Lawrence Trafficway also represents a challenge, he said.
"The trick is going to be how the land around that trafficway develops because if it develops like 23rd Street, it will be a disaster," he said.
Nalbandian, 47, received a doctorate in public administration from the University of Southern California and was chairman of KU's department of public administration from 1984-88. He served in the Army from 1967-70 and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He has lived in Lawrence 15 years.
He and his wife, Carol, who is director of management development programs in KU's School of Business, have one son. They reside at 2545 Mont.