City Commission selects new mayor

Mike Rundle became Lawrence mayor Tuesday night, selected by his City Commission colleagues without a hint of the controversy that dogged his previous attempts to attain the post.

“It feels as normal, as it should,” Rundle said. “It’s been a pretty consistent tradition over the years, but for those few little blips.”

The tradition: The top two vote-getters in a Lawrence City Commission election each get a one-year term as mayor during their tenure. Commissioners select the mayor, a largely ceremonial post, from among their members each April.

The blips: Rundle was rejected by commissioners for the post in 1990. And his next chance, in 2001, seemed dicey when half the commission candidates that spring wouldn’t commit during the campaign to supporting him.

He ultimately became mayor that year. Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to select Rundle for the post. Boog Highberger was selected vice mayor and is expected to become mayor next year.

Rundle is part of the four-person “smart-growth” supermajority, the result of an election sweep in 2003 by candidates supported by the Progressive Lawrence Campaign. Rundle was the leading vote-getter in that election.

Rundle said he expected the big issue during the next year to be recommendations from the city’s Public Improvements Task Force. Those recommendations are expected to include measures that will shift more costs of city infrastructure to developers.

“I’m hoping it’s positive, allowing us to get out ahead of development and put in the infrastructure we need before the development is there,” Rundle said, “and hopefully shifting the costs of development … instead of having the existing taxpayers pay.”

He said that he also hoped to begin audits of city programs, to ensure they’re conforming to “best practices.” Rundle has failed in previous attempts to persuade the City Commission to hire an internal auditor.

Newly installed mayor Mike Rundle, right, applauds outgoing mayor David Dunfield after presenting him with a gavel. Rundle took over as Lawrence mayor at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

Lawrence’s mayor runs commission meetings and, with the commission’s consent, makes appointments to city advisory boards. City commissioners are paid $9,000 annually; the mayor makes $10,000 for the year.

Rundle’s term lasts through April 2005.

Chat online with incoming Mayor Mike Rundle this week at Rundle will take questions from chat participants beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday. Questions may be submitted to the site before the chat.