Deitre ``Dee'' Weismiller, a member of the board of directors of the East Lawrence Improvement Assn. and a saleswoman for Topeka Party Sales, this morning filed as a candidate for the Lawrence City Commission.
She said her belief that minorities, middle- and lower-income residents were not being represented by the commission played a part in her decision to run in the field of 14 candidates vying for three open seats.
"I think there needs to be somebody on the commission who doesn't just represent the west side of town," she said.
Weismiller, who has lived in Lawrence since 1975, said she was not opposed to growth, but that it must be well-planned and not at the expense of the city's central neighborhoods. She fears Lawrence is growing in the same way Johnson County has grown, she said.
She pointed to Kansas City's recent efforts to revitalize historic areas and neighborhoods, neglected during years of suburban growth.
"At the rate we're going in Lawrence, I think that's going to happen here," she said.
She said the criteria for awarding tax abatements and other incentives to businesses locating in Lawrence should be tightened to encourage businesses paying more than minimum wage and which offer benefits.
"I think we've been too free and easy with public money," she said.
Tax abatements have been used to lure businesses offering low-wage, no-benefit jobs, she said.
"There are a lot of families struggling in this town because those are the only jobs you can get," she said. "People can't survive on those wages."
She said the dominance of low-paying jobs combined with high housing costs made survival tough for many Lawrence residents.
Responsible, fair use of public funds also is needed, Weismiller said.
"Seems like we're real eager to spend money on new roads and sewers and igoring those things in the central part of town," she said.
The mother of four children, Weismiller, 34, is a 1985 graduate of Kansas University with a degree in elementary education. She has taught in the Bonner Springs school system. She and her husband, who is employed at Scanning America, live at 940 Conn.
A primary election will be Feb. 26 and the general election will be April 2.