As usually is the case a week after election day, Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission agenda will be a light one.
Once they get past the consent agenda, the commissioners largely will be focused on the ceremonial transition that will mark the exit of two commissioners and the seating of two new ones.
Mike Amyx, the top vote-getter last Tuesday, will return to his seat for another four-year term, but two other veteran commissioners, Sue Hack and Boog Highberger, will step down. They both deserve the community’s gratitude for their years of service on the commission.
The two new commissioners who will be sworn in Tuesday, Aron Cromwell for a four-year term and Lance Johnson for two years, also deserve thanks for their willingness to step up to help lead the city during some challenging times. They will join continuing commissioners Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut, who is expected to be chosen as Lawrence’s next mayor.
There has been the usual amount of analysis after last Tuesday’s election, looking at the dismal voter turnout, the rise of voting in western parts of the city and a decline in the east and what “category” those who were elected fit into. Offering online analysis as election results came in last Tuesday, former Commissioner John Nalbandian talked about the possible absence of “what we would in the past have considered a ‘neighborhood candidate’” on the commission. He speculated that if voters bypassed two candidates he placed in that category (neither were elected), Lawrence would have a more “business oriented” city commission. He conceded, however, that he wasn’t sure how Cromwell, who was elected, “fits into the traditional way we break down candidate positions.”
How refreshing to have one or more candidates who don’t fit into the roles we so often assign: east Lawrence vs. west Lawrence or neighborhood vs. business. Wouldn’t it be great if we could look at our city commissioners as people who were willing to step out of those roles and simply do what’s best for Lawrence? We’ll soon know if this is the case with the new City Commission.
Despite the lack of interest local voters showed in Tuesday’s election, these commissioners will face issues that may be pivotal to the future of Lawrence. We thank them for their commitment to that task and wish them all the best.