The chairman of the city’s Library Board now wants a chair on the Lawrence City Commission.
Mike Machell, one of the top voices in lobbying for an $18 million expansion of the Lawrence Public Library, filed Wednesday for a seat on the City Commission.
Machell entered the race touting his years of corporate experience as a human resources manager and as an executive who has been part of deciding where companies should locate new facilities.
“I want to use my experience to attract new companies to Lawrence,” Machell said. “I’m supportive of all types of employment opportunities for Lawrence.”
But Machell — who as the human resources director for Overland Park-based Prescription Solutions is responsible for about 2,000 employees — said he thinks the city needs to become more focused on attracting jobs from companies that primarily sell their goods or services outside of the city. Those types of “primary jobs” will bring new money into the Lawrence economy, Machell said.
Machell said the city should be open to a variety of job types, saying he is enthusiastic about high-paying bioscience jobs but also wants the city to be open to lower level jobs as well.
“I know our company has to really compete for call center employees in Overland Park because there have been so many call centers open there,” Machell said. “I wonder why we haven’t gotten a larger piece of that in Lawrence.”
Machell also said he thinks he can add a valuable voice on issues dealing with city employee pay and management. He specifically said he’ll want to listen closely to any discussion about possibly privatizing the city’s trash service. He said he could see several problems with outsourcing the service to a private company.
“I’m generally not a huge fan of outsourcing,” Machell said. “If the savings from outsourcing are only nominal, you end up paying for it through lower morale of your remaining employees.”
Machell and his wife, Denise, have lived in Lawrence since 1999. In addition to serving on the appointed Library Board, Machell also ran unsuccessfully for the Lawrence School Board in 2007.
He is the second candidate to have filed for one of three seats on the commission. Hugh Carter, a Lawrence financial adviser, filed in November. Three commissioners — Rob Chestnut, Mike Dever and Lance Johnson — have seats that will be up for re-election. None of the incumbents has yet announced whether he will seek re-election.
The filing deadline for candidates to enter the race is noon on Jan. 25. A primary election, if needed, will be on March 1. The general election will be April 5.