If you are having election withdrawals, you won’t suffer long.
Talk is beginning to heat up over three upcoming races for the Lawrence City Commission, including discussion of a new set of rules that candidates will be playing by for the April election.
But first, candidate talk.
Aron Cromwell — the owner of a Lawrence environmental engineering business that designs and installs alternative energy systems for homes and businesses — said he’s leaning toward entering the commission race.
“I expect to issue a press release in a week or so,” Cromwell said.
James Bush, a marketing and sales professional who ran unsuccessfully for a seat two years ago, said he’s strongly considering filing for the race.
The three incumbent commissioners whose terms are set to expire thus far are mixed on whether to run for re-election. Commissioner Boog Highberger said he doubts that he will run again. Commissioner Mike Amyx said he’s begun discussing the idea with family members and past supporters. Commissioner Sue Hack said she’s still weighing the possibility.
“I’m mulling over a lot of things,” Hack said. “I certainly have a lot on my plate with my mom’s health and job obligations at the chamber, but I’m still thinking.”
But much of the talk lately has centered around a new state law that may make it more likely that the future city commission elections will feature a crowded field.
Until recently, law required that a primary election be held to narrow the field of City Commission candidates down to six. But a law passed late in last year’s legislative session changed the number of candidates who can run in the general election to nine. That means, under one interpretation, a primary no longer would be held unless there are at least 10 candidates.
The change could be significant, local election watchers say.
“It seems like this will require much more attention on the voters’ part to distinguish one candidate from another,” said John Nalbandian, a former city commissioner and a professor in public administration at Kansas University. “I suspect that will mean candidates with the best name recognition in the beginning will do well.”
Commissioners also have expressed concerns about whether election forums with nine candidates will be too long or else won’t be productive.
City commissioners had considered exempting themselves from the new state law — that’s allowed in this case — and keeping the old system. But commissioners recently were told by attorneys that they had waited too long to complete the process for chartering out of the law prior to the election.
The new law also will apply to school board elections.
Individuals have until Jan. 27 to file for a seat on the five-member city commission. The general election will be held on April 7, and a primary election — if needed — will be on March 3.