Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

City Commission candidate survey

March 30, 2003

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* indicates an incumbent

Gregory A. DiVilbiss
Lee Gerhard
Lynn Goodell
Dennis "Boog" Highberger
Mike Rundle*
David Schauner

Gregory A. DiVilbiss



Age: 42

Occupation: Real estate leasing agent

Family (spouse or partner, children): Carol (wife), Dana, 12, Jacob, 6, and Grace, 3

Lived in Lawrence: 2 years

Education: Electronics Institute

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

Yes. However, I believe that we need to take a close look at whether a particular company fits our city. We should have the abatement as a tool in our economic development kit, but we do not need to always use it.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

Yes. I believe that the city, county, state and KU should provide more assistance to the community incubator that would help Lawrence help entrepreneurs commercialize research from KU.

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

Flexible guide. We should follow Horizon 2020 closely. However when planning for the long range, assumptions made when the plan was developed may not be true in the future.

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

No. I have heard from several neighborhoods that they feel as if the city does not listen to them. That in itself is cause for me to believe that the city has more work to do to accommodate the neighborhoods.

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

Reduce inefficiencies. We need to conduct a top-to-bottom review of each department for places where money can be saved. However, every department has an important mission, and we need to support that mission by helping the city become more efficient.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

Yes. I think that having citizens participate in city affairs is important. The city does an excellent job including our community with our other city boards.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

No. The city does an excellent job of educating the city regarding recycling, composting, and other environmental issues. However, until we have curbside recycling, we are not doing enough.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

Disapprove. I believe that the inspections are discriminatory. If we were inspecting homes for purposes of safety, then why would the homeowner next door not be inspected as well? I am not opposed to registration of rental properties.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

Disapprove. Lawrence already has a reputation to overcome regarding how welcoming we are to companies. I do believe that wages should be one factor in deciding whether an abatement is granted.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

Revisit. I am not opposed to a freeboard area that is scientifically established. I am very concerned about the effect that an arbitrary freeboard would have on property owners.

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Lee Gerhard



Age: 65

Occupation: Principal geologist, Kansas Geological Survey, in KU phased retirement

Family (spouse or partner, children): Darcy (wife), Tracy Abrams, Warrenville, Ill.

Lived in Lawrence: 16 years

Education: B. S., Syracuse University; M.S. and Ph.D., KU

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

No. Meeting the conditions set for tax abatements simply makes a company eligible for consideration. The commission has an obligation to determine whether or not a company meets community standards for potential impacts and wages before deciding on abatement.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

Correct. With 70 percent of our jobs in the public sector, Lawrence desperately needs more private-sector jobs. Lawrence has an excellent opportunity to grow our economy in three core areas: life sciences, technology and arts/tourism.

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

Both. Horizon 2020 must reflect the changes in the world around us as well as our past view of how we wish to develop. If the plan is updated regularly and frequently, it can be a strict road map. If it is not so updated, it will have to be a guide rather than a road map.

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

No. It is important to bring neighborhoods into discussions earlier than the current process allows. Early and better communication between the city and its neighborhoods can greatly reduce conflicts that arise when the neighborhoods are brought into discussions with limited alternatives....

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

Neither. I believe we can fund quality services for our citizens through better financial management. I would first complete an intensive internal review of all city departments to identify areas where we can be more efficient.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

I have not encountered this as an issue in the campaign. If there is reason to look at this, we have the opportunity to do this at an early stage without it appearing that we lack confidence in our police force.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

No. My wife, Darcy, and I, do a lot of recycling, and it is inconvenient and difficult. I hope we will study other cities recycling systems and find an inexpensive way for us to do a better job.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

Neither, both. If the inspections are to insure public health and safety, they should be extended to all rental housing. On the other hand, there are legitimate concerns over privacy rights that we should address. If we do a better job of planning and zoning, this issue becomes significantly less problematic.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

Disapprove. I support the goals such ordinances are trying to accomplish, but I believe there are other, better, ways to get there, and would create a community research panel to investigate those methods.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

Adequate. There is no science to back a mandatory and universal two-foot freeboard that would protect us from biblical floods. It is not necessary, and would harm many people.

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Lynn Goodell



Age: 67

Occupation: Retired city director of Housing and Neighborhood Development

Family (spouse or partner, children): Marion (wife), Bill, 42, Eli, 24, Bear, 22, and Sam, 15

Lived in Lawrence: 26 years

Education: Bachelor's in education, Emporia State University; M.P.A., KU

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

As a rule, meeting the required policy conditions is a sufficient reason to approve a tax abatement, but circumstances may require that a company meet additional requirements.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

Yes. I am not suggesting an economic development office in city hall, but I do think the city should be a partner with the chamber of commerce and the county commission. One or two city staff and/or commissioners could be members of a Meet-Greet-Welcome team for prospective businesses.

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

Horizon 2020 is the product of considerable effort on the part of Lawrence and Douglas County citizens. It is an agreed-upon "road map" for sound neighborhoods, a vital downtown, park system and economic development.

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

The city can always do more. One way is to consider the impact of proposed commercial development on neighborhoods. Another way is to provide incentives to older neighborhoods to revitalize and to provide opportunities for neighborhood input into city and school district plans.

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

I would prefer to balance the budget by reaching a compromise between raising taxes and cutting services. I believe the citizens of Lawrence would prefer the same. Raising taxes is never my first priority.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

I don't object to creating a citizens' review board but would need specific information before I would support it.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

I believe the city has done a good job of promoting recycling.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

This is a difficult issue to resolve. I must respect what previous city commissioners have done to deal with it, but I would like to see a report of the results of the present ordinance and the cost to the city.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

Hundreds and hundreds of jobs in Lawrence have been created by firms that have received tax abatements. The present tax abatement model used by the city includes cost/benefit analyses and wage requirements. I would not favor adding a living wage ordinance to it.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

I believe the floodplain development guidelines were adopted in an effort to serve Lawrence citizens in a way that is best for all. We need more information on the "two-foot freeboard" before we can intelligently include it in the guidelines.

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Dennis "Boog" Highberger



Age: 43

Occupation: Attorney, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Family (spouse or partner, children): Single

Lived in Lawrence: 25 years

Education: B.S., KU; J.D., KU

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

Yes. Everybody benefits from having clear and consistent rules. Tax abatement policy should be written to ensure that tax abatements are granted only when there is a clear economic benefit to the city.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

Correct. The city should support the university's efforts to encourage creation of start-up businesses based on research conducted at the university. Development based on our unique local skills and resources is the best way to provide a solid economic base for our future.

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

Neither (but much closer to "strict" than "flexible"). No planning document can adequately anticipate all the possibilities for future growth and development, but we should have clear criteria for determining when an exception to the plan is warranted.

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

No. The impact of new development and infill development on existing neighborhoods is not being adequately considered. No variance from Horizon 2020 should be granted without studying the effect on traffic patterns and other impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

I am inclined to evaluate every service on a case-by-case basis. I think the city should make every effort possible to avoid raising taxes without cutting essential services.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

I think this possibility should be explored. A city the size of Lawrence should have a means for responding to the concerns of citizens about actions of the police department.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

I would like to see a citywide curbside recycling program, but I am not sure that it is economically feasible at this time. The city should have a policy that encourages purchasing products with recycled content (and purchasing locally) where practical.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

Preserving the character and quality of life in our existing single-family neighborhoods should be among the highest priorities for the city. I think the existing limit of three adults per rental unit in single family neighborhoods should be given a chance to work before it is revisited.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

Approve. This is a very moderate proposal that can help make life better for some working families, and is not radically different from our current policy of requiring a firm to pay average wages in various job categories.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

Revisit. Our floodplain regulations should protect existing homes and businesses from the effects of new construction. Ideally, a study should be conducted to determine the areas that will be most effected by future development, but this does not appear to be financially feasible at this time.

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Mike Rundle*



Age: 49

Occupation: Shift manager at Community Mercantile and piano tuner

Family (spouse or partner, children): No response

Lived in Lawrence: 31 years

Education: B.A., KU

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

No. The conditions set out in policy are minimum conditions, and I don't believe they were ever intended to lead to abatements automatically. Our efforts need to be targeted to companies that bring the greatest benefit to our community and to sectors that play to our strengths.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

Yes. 1. The commission should provide leadership in creating and implementing a strategic plan for economic development. 2. We should pay close attention to business retention and business expansion indicators. 3. The commission should advance efforts to establish a business incubator....

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

I don't think it is either. If changes are needed, change it through public processes rather than by Planning Commission actions that are contrary to H2020. Then our standards and future direction will be clear and consistent for everyone.

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

No, and this is as important to economic development as it is to neighborhoods. Our plans call for balance between development and neighborhoods and the environment, and we need to follow those plans. Enhancing the quality of life will attract the best employers.

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

Neither. I wouldn't make a blind choice. We should look systematically at all city operations and services to be smarter with funds and reduce costs throughout the organization. Raising taxes should be considered after we are sure that we are using existing resources wisely.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

Perhaps. There should be accountability and responsiveness at every level of government and within every department and city service. Performance goals and standards set expectations for responsiveness. Assessment of performance is part of the process of assuring accountability.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

No. Our efforts have reduced the amount of material going to the landfill by 30 percent. That is above average nationally, but I think other communities are reaching much higher targets and doing so cost effectively.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

Approve. The inspection process is important for public safety and probably should be expanded to all rental housing in all residential zoning categories when resources are available. There are valid concerns over search warrants that need to be addressed.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

Approve. This is a reasonable proposal already implemented in over 100 cities. Research shows living wage ordinances reduce poverty. We are simply looking out for our interests, a healthy and completely positive signal to citizens and businesses alike.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

Revisit. The two-foot freeboard was an attempt to base our regulations on projected full build-out within city limits. It would help us avoid spending millions on storm water facilities; it would lower flood insurance rates for the entire community; and it would avoid property damage from flooding.

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David Schauner



Age: 57

Occupation: Attorney

Family (spouse or partner, children): Cheryl Hewitt (partner)

Lived in Lawrence: 3 years

Education: B.S. Wichita State University; J.D., Washburn University

If a company meets the conditions required by city policy to receive a tax abatement, is that sufficient reason to approve the abatement?

We should always follow our policies. ... Long-term economic development should be a critical component of our abatement policy. Forgiving a portion of a company's taxes should only be done if the economic benefit to the community outweighs the cost to taxpayers.

Beyond its annual appropriation to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, should the city do more to foster economic development?

The chamber and city need to work with the private sector to select additional parcels that can be developed and marketed as industrial sites. Continuing to work with KU by supporting "spin-off" companies developed from its research should be a priority of our economic development plan.

Is Horizon 2020 a "strict Bible" or "flexible guide" for the city's growth?

Horizon 2020 should be a "strict guide." If we are unhappy, then we should change the plan, not ignore it just because it does not fit a new proposal. Ad hoc decisions that are inconsistent with our vision will recreate 23rd Street and South Iowa throughout the community....

Is the city doing enough to protect neighborhoods and neighborhood interests?

Lawrence does not do enough to protect its neighborhoods. The development of Home Depot on 31st Street and the proposed Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa will have a harmful effect on the neighborhoods around them.

The city, like all levels of government, is facing a budget squeeze. Are you more inclined to raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget?

The choice is not as simple as less service or more taxes. Applying a better business model on city operations could reduce costs and provide better service. A top-to-bottom review of costs and services should be undertaken.

Do you support creation of a citizens review board for the Lawrence Police Department?

I am open to receiving more information about a Citizens' Review Board. The police could benefit from videotape equipment in its patrol cars and its interrogation rooms. Questions about its operations could be easily answered if this protection was afforded to both the police and the public.

Is the city doing enough to promote recycling?

The city should explore a public/private partnership to expand the recycling options in Lawrence. Other cities have had some success with joint programs, and I believe that we should explore the opportunities and learn from other cities how to operate a program.

Do you approve or disapprove of the city's law requiring the registration and inspection of rental housing in single-family zoned areas?

I approve of the concept embodied in our current ordinance. The commission worked to find a balance between landlords/students and neighborhoods. The ordinance has not been given a fair chance to work.

Do you approve or disapprove of a proposed "living wage" ordinance that would require companies that receive tax breaks to offer wages at a certain level?

I approve of a tax abatement policy that requires the company receiving the tax break to pay its employees sufficient wages to live above the poverty line. A tax abatement policy that fails to do that is not only unethical, it also creates additional burdens on the social services paid by taxpayers.

Are the recently approved floodplain development guidelines adequate, or do you favor revisiting the issue to add a "two-foot freeboard" to the regulations?

Neither. The floodplain issue is largely misunderstood. We have adopted good regulations, but we are still not protecting downstream properties from flooding due to a widening floodplain caused by upstream development.

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