Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

Huber running low key campaign for city commission

February 14, 2003


The name of August "Gus" Lafayette Huber IV will appear on the ballot this month as a candidate for Lawrence City Commission. But it's difficult to say he's actually running for the office.

If he's advertising, it's not easily found. He hasn't attended the public candidate forums. And he doesn't return calls or e-mails to reporters seeking comment on issues in the campaign.

So if you want to know what the 22-year-old Huber thinks, you've got to track him down. At home, maybe. Or at the downtown gallery he shares with 11 other artists.

"I really don't feel the concerns of younger people, who make up a large portion of the community, are effectively represented on the commission," he said.

Huber doesn't like tax abatements, but favors a living wage. He thinks the city should spend more money on homeless shelters. He believes the city too often sides with developers. And he thinks city services could use more cuts than tax increases.

Most of all, Huber said he wants to preserve the unique character of Lawrence.

"We don't need suburban strip malls that try to pull the focus away from downtown," he said. "It's the most valuable resource we have."

Huber said tax abatements should be used only to help existing companies.

This is one of 11 city commission candidate profiles that will run in alphabetical order online each weekday, Monday through Friday, through Feb. 21.6News will provide an accompanying video profile at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. each weeknight through Feb. 21 on Sunflower Broadband's cable Channel 6.Video and text profiles on the candidates will be compiled through the series online on our City commission candidates site.

"I don't think tax abatements should be used for new development at all," he said. "You should look for people who are already in Lawrence and have a commitment to Lawrence."

The city budget, he said, could be supported by small tax increases, but officials should look for savings. The Visitors Center in North Lawrence, he said, doesn't deserve city funding.

"I've never seen anyone go there," Huber said. "I honestly question what value it has to the community."

The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau runs the center under a contract with the city. The money comes from a hotel tax that officials say wouldn't easily be diverted to support the city general fund.

Huber also criticizes the city for not doing more to help the homeless. The city subsidizes the Salvation Army shelter -- Huber referred to it as a "Red Cross" shelter -- but homeless persons who drink generally aren't allowed to stay.

"I think the city should help these people," he said. "We're helping everybody else with a tax break and transportation downtown."

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