One candidate has begun campaigning to fill the Douglas County Commission seat that will be open by the resignation of Charles Jones, and another candidate may soon start.
Mike Gaughan — a 31-year old legislative assistant to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and former director of the state’s Democratic Party, confirmed Friday that he’s seeking the seat.
“I think it is an incredible opportunity, with the economy as challenging as it is, to work on the county budget and make sure it reflects the values of the community,” said Gaughan, who has been in Lawrence since 1996.
Outgoing City Commissioner Boog Highberger also confirmed that he’s seriously considering seeking the position.
Democratic precinct committee members in the County Commission’s First District — which is entirely within the Lawrence city limits — will choose Jones’ replacement at 10 a.m. on April 4 at a special convention at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
Highberger, who has served on the City Commission for six years but is not seeking re-election, said he would bring valuable experience to the three-member County Commission.
“And it would make me feel less guilty about leaving the City Commission during these tough economic times,” Highberger said.
Highberger, a longtime opponent of plans to build the South Lawrence Trafficway through the Baker Wetlands, said the County Commission seat also would give him another chance to work on that issue.
“It would give me one last opportunity to resolve the SLT issue in a way that would not create a lot of serious environmental problems for the community,” Highberger said.
There are 22 precinct committee members who are eligible to vote at the special convention. They will cast secret ballots following short speeches from any candidates who are nominated for the position.
Jones, a Democrat who has served for 10 years on the County Commission, announced earlier this month that he would resign to devote more time to his job with Kansas University.
His resignation comes three months into the first terms of his two fellow commissioners. Democrat Nancy Thellman and Republican Jim Flory were elected in November and began serving in January.