A former city commissioner who has been an advocate for Lawrence wage earners and the city’s public transit system is making a run for the City Commission.
Dennis Constance, who served on the City Commission from 1987 to 1989, formally filed Tuesday for one of three at-large seats on the commission.
“I’m concerned that during these tough economic times that some of the more vulnerable citizens are going to get squeezed off the table,” he said.
Constance, 60, said he was particularly concerned about some rumblings that the city may rethink the living wage ordinance that it passed in 2003. Constance was part of the citizens group that advocated for the passage of the ordinance, which requires companies receiving a tax abatement to pay all their workers a wage that is at least 30 percent greater than the poverty level for a family of four.
Constance also was active in the recent Campaign to Save the T, which successfully led efforts to persuade residents to approve two new sales taxes to keep the city’s public transit system operating.
Constance is a 34-year employee at Kansas University and currently is a supervisor of custodians in the university’s housekeeping department. He recently was appointed to the university committee conducting a search to replace retiring Chancellor Robert Hemenway.
Constance said he would hope to be a liaison between city government and KU administrators. He also said he’s interested in improving the city’s ability to help small start-up companies that spin off KU research.
“I think the current economic situation we’re in has shown that the old model isn’t working so well,” Constance said. “Diversifying through lots of small businesses instead of a few huge businesses is probably a healthier way to go.”
Constance, who has lived in Lawrence since 1968, is single with two grown sons.