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Archive for Friday, January 5, 1996

GOVERNMENT SYSTEM

January 5, 1996

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In a city of 72,000 residents, can people expect their elected local officials to respond quickly to questions, concerns or complaints?

Or, better yet, should they have to?

On Saturday afternoon, a group of local political experts will gather to discuss these and other questions about representation in local government.

The forum, "To District or Not to District," will concentrate on the concept of electing individual Lawrence city commissioners to represent specific areas of town.

The city's five commissioners now are elected at-large. The top three vote-getters serve either two- or four-year terms and represent the entire city.

"The community is continuing to grow, and as communities grow, governments need to change, too," said Lisa Blair of the League of Women Voters. "We need to at least entertain options."

The forum is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Panelists will be Forrest Swall, a former state representative; Mary Weisert, former campaign manager for state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence; and Paul Schumaker, a professor of political science at Kansas University.

Linda Joler will moderate the forum, whose organizers -- the league and the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods -- encourage people to ask questions.

"It's time for the discussion to rise to the surface again," Blair said.

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