City Hall

City Hall

Candidate wants people his age to care about Lawrence’s growth

February 14, 2007


Jake Davis knows what a lot of you are thinking.

At 28 years old, he's the youngest in the field of nine candidates seeking a seat on the Lawrence City Commission. And he's a musician who plays at Lawrence bars and nightclubs under the name Basin. His full-time job is as a data entry worker at Pearson Government Solutions, and he takes some college classes to finish up degrees that he's been working on since 1996.

But Davis doesn't want people to think he's just some guy who thought it would be cool to say he once was a city commission candidate.

"I think what people should know about me is that I care about this town, and I'm no dope," Davis said.

If anything, Davis said, he likes to learn too much. He came to Kansas University as a National Merit Scholar, but does not yet have a degree after taking more than 170 hours of classes. He said that's because he's changed degree tracks multiple times, focusing on engineering, graphic arts, geology, psychology and now economics.

"I like the idea of knowing something about a whole lot of things," Davis said. "Everything interests me. It is hard to focus on one thing when there are so many things out there."

Spurred by sprawl

Politics and city government are a growing interest for Davis. But not entirely a new one. Davis said that growing up in the Bonner Springs area he saw the growth of the Kansas City metro area up close, and didn't always like what he saw.

"I remember driving down Highway 7 and there used to be this spot that was a nice empty pasture, and then one day I drove by and it seemed like there were a thousand identical homes," Davis said. "I think that is where I got my first distaste for suburbia. Everybody wants their backyards and they don't want to talk to their neighbors. I think you lose a little bit."

Davis said he began to notice that trend occurring in Lawrence in the late 1990s, and that's when the idea of politics first entered his mind. He wishes, though, it was on the mind of more people his age.

City commission candidate Jake Davis discusses his vision for Lawrence


"I know that young people in Lawrence just tend not to vote in city elections," Davis said. "Young people - I hate to say young people because it makes me sound so old - but they see a special about Iraq on MTV and care about that, but they don't understand how these local issues impact them. They don't understand that all issues start at home."

But if a member of the MTV generation could land a seat on the commission, Davis said he thought it would be good for the community.

"Being part of a different generation, I think, might make me a little more open to new ideas," Davis said. "I think I may just have a different perspective about what is important. A lot of people on the commission probably grew up in a time where general suburbia was the American Dream."

The issues

Davis said he thought that Lawrence city government had, at times, been too far-reaching.

"The job of government is to provide infrastructure for the people and provide a place where jobs can grow," Davis said. "I don't think it is there to hold your hand or protect you from every scary thing in the corner."

For Davis, the city's smoking ban is an example of the City Commission going too far. He said the city should have adopted a smoking ban that is less stringent because he believes the current ban puts Lawrence businesses at a disadvantage to those in other communities.

Plus, he said it has caused residents to become calloused toward the plight of small businesses.

"It used to be an issue of business rights and we all voted with our dollar," Davis said. "Now, people just don't like smelling like smoke, and they don't care if a business has to lay off people because of the ban. Nobody seems to care now. They would rather see an empty storefront than have a bar that allows smoking."

On other issues, Davis said:

¢ The city needs to focus on improving and selling its quality of life issues when trying to attract new businesses to town.

"I'm not a fan of tax abatements at all," Davis said. "They just draw in the type of businesses that will leave once the abatement is gone."

¢ He has a "rabid interest" in new environmental technology, and would like the city to investigate using more of it. In particular, he wants to explore technologies that could capture the large amounts of carbon dioxide from Westar's coal-fired power plant north of Lawrence, and use it to help produce biodiesel and ethanol.

¢ A new library is a "nice idea, but from what I understand, we don't have any money." Davis said he would be supportive of a project if it received the blessing of the public through a citywide election. But Davis said he thought the range of options that the commission is considering for the project should be expanded.

¢ Taking care of existing infrastructure needs to be a higher priority for the city.

"I think there needs to be a shift in our thinking to really concentrate more on our current infrastructure," Davis said. "That has to take priority over giving something nice to the new growth."

The primary will be Feb. 27 when voters will narrow the field from nine candidates to six candidates. Voters will elect candidates to fill three at-large seats on the five-member City Commission when they go to the polls in the general election April 3.

Other candidates in the race are James Bush, a Lawrence minister; Carey Maynard-Moody, a retired school social worker; Rob Chestnut, chief financial officer for Allen Press; Mike Dever, owner of a Lawrence-based environmental consulting firm; Sam Fields, a Lawrence bail bondsman; Commissioner Boog Highberger, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Michael Limburg, a Lawrence forklift operator; and Commissioner David Schauner, general counsel of the Kansas National Education Association.


HoosierPride 11 years, 1 month ago

It's nice to have a candidate that's not trying to bring Egypt to Lawrence, do away with automobiles, or create a new currency. Sadly he will probably not get elected since he doesn't have the big money realtors backing his campaign. If only people would open their eyes and see that it's probably a good thing for a candidate to not be in someones back pocket before he even gets elected.

Kookamooka 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm just an old fart but I like this guy and I think young people do need to be involved in the shaping of our city. It's time for some new ideas. The young will have to live with the decisions far longer and maybe it will encourage more students to take a vested interest in the community.

Patrick Wilbur 11 years, 1 month ago

I did not read the comment as negative either. I used to be a DE worker at Pearson and it's a decent gig.

I am very impressed with this candidate's priorities. He seems to understand the proper role of government. There's a frightening degree of common sense here.

drake 11 years, 1 month ago

I didn't read it as a negative. Who is the real snob psycho?

HoosierPride 11 years, 1 month ago

I think you might be missing the point logrithmic. To me it appears that he is more concerned with the rights of local business than the environment. I believe that this shows he is someone who will make tough decisions even if it does not always fit in with his personal views on certain issues.

common_cents 11 years, 1 month ago

I like his views. I know some people who work with him and plan on finding out more about him to solidify my opinions.

One quote bothers me though:

"Everything interests me. It is hard to focus on one thing when there are so many things out there."

We need someone with focus. I can only hope that when it comes to the problems in this government, he can focus and get the job done. As of now, he has my vote.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 1 month ago

"He came to Kansas University as a National Merit Scholar, but does not yet have a degree after taking more than 170 hours of classes. He said that's because he's changed degree tracks multiple times, focusing on engineering, graphic arts, geology, psychology and now economics."

Indecisiveness, can't finish what you start, over-intelligent/under-acheive, love the downtown lifestyle, a novice at everything, expert in nothing: you're a perferct fit for communisher for the United States of the City of Lawrence. This is a Highburger protege in the making if I've ever seen one. Yes, this is the first person we ought to put in control of hundreds of millions of dollars and the City's future.

bugmenot 11 years, 1 month ago

So far I like everything this guy has to say.

Feverpitch 11 years, 1 month ago

I would vote for him, but it really creeps me out that

"Jake Davis knows what a lot of you are thinking."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

"This is a Highburger protege in the making if I've ever seen one."

I see that you still think that merely stating something makes it so. Why don't you strive for greater things in your pronouncements? Perhaps Lord of the Universe?

rhd99 11 years, 1 month ago

Rob Chestnut or Jake Davis, either way, all candidates (EXCEPT Schauner & Boog) are striving to make sure they DO NOT alienate the Lawrence electorate. One thing is for sure both of these guys know the business owners' needs, UNLIKE the PLC duo.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 1 month ago

In response to an above posts by logorhythmic and Hoosierpride, I think his other points show that Jake wants to aggressively addressed the environment, even if he isn't in favor of an absolute city-wide 24-7 smoking ban for economic reasons.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 1 month ago

Gee boys and girls, after waking up at the crack of 10:52 a.m., bozo the clown has just enlightened us all with 3rd grade "I know you are but what am I?" argumentitive techniques. Thanks for making us all more intelligent by posting exactly what you assert in passing others are doing. You are true to your posting name's roots, I'll give you that. Seriously, you should consider running for one of the communisher spots since there is a tendency in the United States of the City of Lawrence to hand the check book and keys over to anyone spewing incoherent, dadistic, socialist, and sophist drivel, nevermind the wisdom in having skilled people with practical experience (distinguished from living in a world of wishful fantasy that square pegs, i.e. socialism, can be placed in round holes, i.e. successful economic systems)guide and shape the future of Lawrence. Much like a parasite, you have nothing to offer of any originality and rely exclusively on your host's arguments to which you state mere conclusions passed as observations. They are what they are, nothing of substance. I defy you to debate me on the platform of issues and logic rather than making passing 3rd Grade comments. You can't, because the substance of any argument you can make runs as skin deep as the failed social and economic issues you espouse.

thomgreen 11 years, 1 month ago

Is it just me, or is he only saying the things that people want to hear? Sure tax abatement is like corporate welfare, but do you see any other way of attracting new companies? Tax abatements aren't always to attract new companies, sometimes they help a company decide to do an expansion that almost doubles the company.
Spouting anti-smoking ban sentiments seem to be the popular route, but in reality, Lawrence was only ahead of the curve in that area. Smoking bans are going to be a nationwide thing in the future. Pure and simple.
I'm sorry, I was hoping that Mr. Davis would be a feasible candidate, but anyone that comes out against the smoking ban won't get my vote.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

"I defy you to debate me on the platform of issues and logic rather than making passing 3rd Grade comments."

Your last very lengthy, content-free diatribe, and pretty much every post you've ever made, indicate that it is far out of your capabilities.

Stick with what you're best at, RA-- all petty, baseless innuendo, all the time.

lunacydetector 11 years, 1 month ago

he sounds like a quasi-career student. this guy will be good for the election because he will steal votes from the boog and schauner.

braden_quinn 11 years, 1 month ago

He may be confusing abatement with catering to special interest groups. Tax abatements are definitely needed to bring new jobs to Lawrence.

I like his views for the most part though. Personally I don't smoke but I hate the smoking band because of how it effects businesses. And that the decision was made by 3 people in a room somewhere and not the community.

Honestly some day the whole world will be smoke free but by "quitting cold turkey", if you pardon the pun, we're sending business and tax revenue elsewhere because they can smoke inside. Also by doing so it forced owners of businesses to spend money on the exterior of the buildings or suffer the consequences of not having a smoking option (I'm sure with the economy in a slump it hit them at exactly the right time). Ease into it and it'll have less impact on the pocket book of those that it does effect.

The City Commission thats currently up there has pigeon holed their agenda for FAR too long. Special interest groups have kept them from having a wide view and looking at the long term.

They were busy debating the Iraq war when they should have looked at businesses closing downtown. Anybody notice Q-Doba rolled up and blew out of town?

Whom ever is elected needs to tighten up the agenda and work on the bottom line for the city. Helping businesses grow, bringing in jobs (not just more low paying jobs for an unskilled workforce), modernize infrastructure, and plan for growth.

I look at this city and see it mired in misdirection and the subterfuge the special interests of a hand full of powerful builders in the background. They are builders we need but lets not let things get out of hand.

Do we really need this library with the youth pulling away from the brick and mortar world and drawing more heavily on the internet? Or does Fritzle just think its a good idea? Humor us the public with specifics....

I could go on at length but I'll spare the readers. I often read the comments posted here but don't often comment. Maybe people on the comments should quit bitching from the shadows and write to the opinion portion of the paper.

Be inspired to share your thoughts on how this city could change for the better instead of just ripping on the article.


P.S. Mr. Basin has my vote. Mainly cause he seems to want to see change. He might not be 100% sure on what needs to be changed but he seems interested in actually finding out instead of just going with the flow or what "feels" right.

Scott Drummond 11 years, 1 month ago

Can anyone provide a list of companies that have left ONCE the tax abatement is gone?

All companies who ever moved to take advantage of the offered tax abatement. It's just not Lawrence that they left.

MyName 11 years, 1 month ago

We haven't been giving out very many tax abatements in this city. I think we've only given out 2 or so, at least IIRC from a previous article I read here.

I think tax abatements are probably not the first thing we need to be doing to attract new business. Though we're kind of in a fix right now as most blue collar jobs could have an easier time in Topeka, and most White Collar type jobs would have an easier time in the KC metro area. That would explain the high percentage of low paying retail/service jobs which cater to the people who have better jobs that they commute to.

I dunno, it kind of bothers me that the guy never managed to finish a degree after 10+ years at it. On the bright side, at least we have a decent field of people who are interested in become a city commissioner, that's better than having the same lousy people running unopposed year after year like some communities.

And Rational, as an aside, I think Bozo gives each and every one of your posts the thought and attention they deserve. Perhaps more attention than they deserve, actually. And I mean that sincerely.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 1 month ago

Thank you bozo for illustrating your inability to engage in debate on the platform of issues and logic. At least you're honest.

Given that, it is not suprising you're for a candidate with zero qualification other than an inability to finish college and accrue 170 credit hours over a 10 year period and still not have a degree. But, I suppose the lack of experience in business, management, and city planning is offset by fond memories of an empty pasture and jamming at downtown nightclubs.

The point is, managment of a city takes more than a whistle and skip. Given his track record of finishing things, can we be certain he will even show-up to City meetings consistently? The facts suggest to the contrary. Like I said, there are consequences to handing the City checkbook and keys over to people.

The position of City Commissioner is more than a temp job held to build a resume. The next City Commission will likely decide the fate of a new library and lay the infrastructure for generations to come. Contracts will be negotiated, complex planning will made and discussed. Blue prints will be reviewed. Alterations to plans will be made. More negotiations will be made. Legal risks will be discussed and courses of action will have to be chosen. Tens of Millions of dollars will awarded in contracts. Believe it, putting Jake Davis in front of people on the other side of the negotiating table is like throwing a kitty-cat into the crocodile pool. The consequences will be manifest by millions of dollars wasted in either poor design, bad management, or poor negotiating. The City deserves and demands more than an on the job trainee.

While Jake seems like a well intentioned guy, his qualifications are grossly below what the job demands.

braden_quinn 11 years, 1 month ago

Rationalanimal, just cause someone has a degree doesn't make them an expert in anything. Even those that have a powerful looking resume may be weak in the clutch.

Don't jump to conclusions on anybody just yet.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

Ones stance and position could be completly different. for instance, I could have a left leaning stance from a right wing position.

ashuck33 11 years, 1 month ago

Jake, I like a lot of what you say and I really like your enthuasium. We are almost the same age and I commend you for taking an active interest in public service-more of us need to do the same. Keep in mind-it will be up to you to find money for the new library. And please support the smoking ban-its not a ban-we're just asking they step outside and smoke. Good Luck! I will be following your progress.

Meatwad 11 years, 1 month ago

I'd have NO PROBLEM whatsoever if the smoking ban were put to a vote. Jake probably hangs out a a certain bar that was probably going out of business anyway and now has something to blame for their failure.... uh, don't forget that bars have actually gone in and out of business for a LONG TIME before there was ever a smoking ban. I don't think there is ONE person, well maybe one but not TWO, that actually go to bars in nearby towns simply so they can smoke inside. Most smokers I know don't care about the smoking ban, they don't mind stepping outside, many even LIKE it because they can smoke and not smell like smoke. It's too bad because I like a lot of what Jake stands for, but he will never get my vote because his stance on the smoking ban is very narrow minded, uninformed and shows that he just doesn't 'get it'.

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