A Lawrence business owner who believes the city needs to do more to embrace growth is set to become the first announced candidate for City Commission.
Mike Dever, owner of the Lawrence-based environmental firm GuideWire Consulting, said he thought the City Commission needed to do more to broaden the city's business tax base.
"I think the most important thing is for us to focus in a more determined fashion on growth instead of being a bit afraid of growth," Dever said.
Dever is scheduled to announce his candidacy at 11 a.m. today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
Dever will be vying for one of three at-large spots held by Commissioners Boog Highberger, Mike Rundle and David Schauner. All three incumbents said Monday they either had not decided or were not ready to announce whether they would run for re-election. Highberger, though, said he was strongly leaning toward seeking a second term.
Dever, 43, has lived in Lawrence since 1998. He also lived here from 1981 to 1991 when he was a student and employee at Hall-Kimbrell, a former Lawrence environmental consulting firm.
Dever said his work had taken him to about 1,000 communities during the past 10 years. He said that gave him the opportunity to see what was working and not working in cities across the country.
In Lawrence, he said, there is a strong need to do more to decrease the city's reliance on residential property taxes. He also said he had seen evidence that the city could add new retail areas to the community without hurting its prized downtown.
"Improving the number of people who live here and the amount of money they earn will be the best way to help downtown," said Dever, who is married and has two middle school-aged children.
On other large city issues, Dever said he wanted to do some polling of the public to find out what they really wanted in a new library before moving with plans to build or expand the library. He also said he wanted to interject his environmental training into the South Lawrence Trafficway issue. He said he had some concerns about the City Commission officially opposing a 32nd Street route for the road.
The City Commission election will be April 3. If more than six candidates file for election, there will be a primary election Feb. 27. Candidates have until noon Jan. 23 to file.