Archive for Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Amyx, Cromwell and Johnson pick up seats on Lawrence City Commission

Mike Amyx, who received the most votes in the city commission race, gets a high five from steering committee member and supporter Becky Mondi, Lawrence, as the final numbers are announced during his watch party at the American Legion Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

Mike Amyx, who received the most votes in the city commission race, gets a high five from steering committee member and supporter Becky Mondi, Lawrence, as the final numbers are announced during his watch party at the American Legion Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

April 7, 2009


Election Day 2009

Voters in November's general election sometimes had to wait in lines, but there was no waiting in today's election, making each vote cast that much more important.

View a detailed breakdown of results from every precinct for this race

With perhaps the tightest city budget in recent memory looming, voters selected a familiar face in Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission election.

Mike Amyx, the lone incumbent running in the race, won a wire-to-wire victory and easily took the top spot. Aron Cromwell, the owner of an environmental consulting business, finished a solid second. Lance Johnson — the owner of a civil engineering firm and the campaign’s top fundraiser — had to wait until the final precinct was counted to win a third-place victory.

Amyx — a downtown barber shop owner who served on the City Commission from 1983 to 1988 and from 2005 to 2009 — said he’s convinced voters spoke with their pocketbooks.

“The big thing I heard from people is that they are concerned how their money is going to be spent,” Amyx said. “Let’s face it, people are having to make hard decisions about how to spend their money.”

The election results mean there will be two new faces on the five-member commission when Cromwell and Johnson are sworn in at next Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioners Sue Hack and Boog Highberger did not seek re-election.

In an election that featured a turnout of just 13.9 percent, Amyx led the eight-person field with 5,564 votes. He was followed by Cromwell with 3,982 votes; Lance Johnson, 3,572; Price Banks, a Lawrence attorney and former city planning director, 3,413; James Bush, a sales and marketing professional, 3,241; Gwen Klingenberg, a private music instructor and Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods president, 2,470; Dennis Constance, a custodial supervisor at KU and a city commissioner from the 1980s, 2,204; and Tom Johnson, general manager of KJHK radio, 700.

Cromwell broke into the top three after running a campaign that pledged not to cut funding for social service programs, and to change the city’s economic development strategy to focus more on tourism, small businesses, and the retirement industry.

“I think this shows that people want us to work to preserve and strengthen our economy and our job base, while at the same time worrying about the social and environmental issues that have always been important to us,” Cromwell said.

Voters, though, did not come out in large numbers for the other two candidates — Klingenberg and Constance — who stressed the need to stave off social service funding cuts.

“I’m not sure what to make of this,” Constance said as the vote totals came in. “There were a lot of people I talked to who just weren’t aware there was an election that was going on. I guess they didn’t feel like there was a burning issue.”

Lance Johnson said he believes that voters sent a message that jobs are an important issue. He made that his central campaign issue, but voters did not flow to Bush, who also stressed many of the same ideas.

“I think voters are still saying that we need jobs and we need to grow our tax base,” Johnson said. “What they may be saying is that there are some differences on how we do that.”


lounger 9 years, 1 month ago

GRoovy! Cromwell Should keep an eye out for environmental issues. Always a good thing to have him representing us greens...

dontcallmedan 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow-14.2 % of a 13.9 % turnout gets you a seat. Now that's a mandate!

Deb Stavin 9 years, 1 month ago

It's the Chamber of Commerce's responsibility to attract new business to Lawrence, not the City Commission's.

Michael Capra 9 years, 1 month ago

well enough said we still have brains on the commission now lets get jobs coming to lawrence and get merrill to stop copy and pasting

Michael Capra 9 years, 1 month ago

lets get all the people together city county and lets make this the most attractive place to come to for new biz small or large

Danimal 9 years, 1 month ago

I think Cromwell is going to be a disaster. I also think that James Bush only lost because his name is "Bush."

Jennifer Dropkin 9 years, 1 month ago

The Chamber of Commerce is funded by the City of Lawrence, so our city commissioners need to pay attention to what it does--and not be beholden to it.

This is my fear about certain representation on the City Commission: the commissioners need to act in the interest of ALL the people of Lawrence, and not the Chamber, which acts in its own interests.

We all need to pay attention to the kind of business AND services the Chamber supports or fails to support. The bus service comes to mind: the Chamber was publicly silent about whether there should or shouldn't be mass transit in Lawrence. Why?

The Chamber web site is still riddled with pages that don't load or are "under development"; most notably, those pages relate to community events, community development, the FAQ, and the site map, exactly those sites that are relevant to the public aspects of its function.

As far as I can tell, we now have a City Commission with only one commissioner who is not corporately aligned (although Dever bears watching with some interest, since he is remolding himself as an environmentally aware politician).

I'll be watching to see who is calling the shots in this Commission--the Chamber or the commissioners.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

But where is Price.... "Lawrence is special"... Banks

think_about_it 9 years, 1 month ago

Since the city overwhelmingly rejected KlinkenKlunk does that mean that we can dump the eMT and the stupid a$$ sales tax?

bangaranggerg 9 years, 1 month ago

There was an election yesterday? This is an interesting way to find out about it...

Geez, that picture of Amyx and the American Legion is just creeping me out.

texburgh 9 years, 1 month ago

It is interesting that an article yesterday told us how sales tax receipts are down in downtown. Perhaps that is because we have a city commission that is owned and operated by the chamber and the developers. Their lackeys on the commission approve every new retail development - good, bad, or indifferent - and spread sales all over the place. They are also creating a glut of retail space that will prove to be unnecessary. In the end we will have empty retail spaces, a withering downtown, and lost charm. Lance Johnson will do his best, I am sure, to kow-tow to the developers. The only bright spot is the election of Cromwell but the poor man will have no voice as his is overwhelmed by the handlers of the rest of them.

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago

These turnouts are ridiculously low - why aren't more people voting?

If we did, perhaps we could make sure that our city commisioners aren't simply in business and development interests' pockets.

When turnouts are so low, the only real message that is clear is that way too many people don't care enough to vote.

verity 9 years, 1 month ago

People don't bother to vote and then they bitch, moan, whine and insult those elected. And if you didn't know there was an election, you just aren't paying attention.

I believe we had people representing a wide range of views in this election and, considering how easy it is to vote in Lawrence, there is no excuse not to.

And since you are online if you are reading this, you have no excuse for not knowing what the different candidates stand for.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

"I think Cromwell is going to be a disaster."

By this I assume that you mean he won't be joining the rubberstamp brigade-- in which case, you are probably right.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

The silver lining is that Cromwell will not be up for election next time around, and neither will Amyx. Amyx is generally a willing member of the rubberstamp brigade, but occasionally shows evidence of a conscience and a little independent thinking.

So in 2011, Dever's, Chestnut's and Johson's seats will be up for election, with a real possibility of dramatically changing the character of the commission.

jade 9 years, 1 month ago

It is not in the interest of this community to ignore this low turnout which is 5 points lower than the last time, and that turnout was embarrassing. We need to better understand why people think voting in local elections is a waste of time. It seems unlikely that this commission will care enough to ask the question. Maybe the League of Women Voters would fund such a study.

right_down_the_middle 9 years, 1 month ago

fortunately, Bozo, we have till 2011 to have the new CC undo all the damage the PLC/Grassroots clan has done. It will not be easy but I, for one, will be helping as much as I can (as I did during this election). Come 2011, we'll be ready to keep and expand seats on the CC and retake the County Commission as well. At least you have Obama.

Random56 9 years, 1 month ago

What is the deal with the advertising (stubhub) right in the middle of the article LJW???? I understand the need for advertising, but when it pops up and has no close icon? I come here to read articles that is the purpose of this website isn't it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

"we have till 2011 to have the new CC undo all the damage the PLC/Grassroots clan has done."

Care to elaborate, RDTM? And be specific-- none of those "business unfriendly," "anti-growth" meaningless catch phrases. Precisely what did the PLC commissioners do in their 4 years of a voting majority that has ruined Lawrence? (There never was anything that could remotely be called a "Grassroots"-dominated commission, and there is very little connection between the two groups, the PLC having been disbanded quite a while ago.)

Is it at all possible that the many decades of Chambocrat commissions that have typically dominated Lawrence city politics have any responsibility for any of the problems this town has? Why didn't the Chambocrat-dominated Commission of the last couple of years reverse all the evil damage that the PLC commissioners inflicted (in four short years, not several long decades?) What makes you think this new commission will make everything all wonderful again?

Thats_messed_up 9 years, 1 month ago

Cromwell=Lawrence's new Booger Highbooger yuck

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Expanding the tax base is what brought the high tax bedroom community and a flooded housing market which is depreciating the value of property as week. Taxpayers better hope and pray that housing construction does not pick up as a means to create jobs.

Further flooding the retail markets will further economic displacement instead of economic growth. This is unfriendly to existing business and calls for increase in taxes and/or user fees as Mayor Dever has already suggested.... Lawrence development is not paying for itself or paying back the taxpayers.

User fees increases are on the table as we speak which are tax increases any way you look at it.

Flooded markets are necessarily attractive to new business for the most obvious reasons.

Taxpayers hang on to your wallets as we get nickled and dimed out of more spending money without the opportunity to vote on such activity.

geekyhost 9 years, 1 month ago

"Voters spoke with their pocketbook." And what they said with their pocketbook was that 87% of them had something better to do than vote, apparently. Maybe they were busy shopping at Walmart.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

After 25 years of expanding the base we had tax increases and user fee increases all along the way. Expanding the tax base is not suppose to increase taxes, user fees or our cost of living….. so what happened?

This situation will not change!

9 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations Lawrence - you just elected Doug Compton to the City Commission AGAIN!

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