Candidates haven’t even begun to emerge, but a primary election in the next Lawrence City Commission race seems more likely.
City commissioners at their meeting this week will consider relaxing the requirements on when a primary election must be held in City Commission races.
A new state law in 2009 made it unnecessary for the first time in decades for the city to hold a primary to narrow the field in the City Commission race.
The new state law does not require a primary election unless 10 or more candidates are vying for the three City Commission seats that are up for grabs every two years.
At their meeting on Tuesday, commissioners will consider exempting the city out of the state law and going back to the old system that required a primary anytime seven or more candidates filed.
“I think the plan that we had before worked extremely well,” said Mayor Mike Amyx. “It gave people a chance to go through a primary and become known to the voters.”
Amyx said the last election had problems with candidate forums being overly long because nine to 10 candidates were trying to answer questions.
Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he also supports going back to the old system to give voters more time to learn about the candidates.
“I think we need to try to encourage primaries,” Chestnut said. “It just seems that we don’t get the level of attention that is necessary without a primary. The election creeps up on you.”
There could be a cost associated with the change. Every time the city avoids a primary election, it saves abut $35,000 that otherwise would be spent to stage an election.
Amyx, though, said the cost is reasonable, especially given that City Commission elections occur only once every two years.
The next City Commission elections are slated for 2011. A primary election would be in February. The general election will be in April.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.