A longtime downtown restaurant owner and former Lawrence mayor has added his name to the mix of candidates seeking a seat on the City Commission.
Bob Schumm on Tuesday launched his campaign for one of three seats on the commission by touting an economic development plan that puts a focus on small, homegrown businesses and creation of a new downtown retail incubator.
“It seems very, very difficult these days to attract a firm from one city to another,” Schumm said. “Those opportunities are so few and far between. It seems like we should make more efforts to create homegrown businesses. Once a company starts in Lawrence, often times they don’t leave.”
The idea of a downtown incubator that would help small retail businesses get started is one way the city could get more involved, Schumm said. He said the city might be able to provide incubator tenants with a “very small” subsidy to help with rent and property taxes while their businesses get established.
Schumm has owned and operated restaurants in Downtown Lawrence for the last 40 years. He currently owns Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse and The Dynamite Saloon. Schumm, 64, also is a veteran of Lawrence City Hall, winning three city commission elections. He served from April 1979 to April 1981 and then again from April 1987 to April 1993. He served as mayor from April 1989 to April 1991.
On other issues, Schumm said:
• He supports efforts to redevelop the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant into a business park.
• He wants to promote city planning that does more blending “of residential, recreational and retail space.”
Schumm is the fourth candidate to declare for the race. Former planning commissioner Hugh Carter, library board member Mike Machell and current City Commissioner Mike Dever all have filed for seats. Commissioners Rob Chestnut and Lance Johnson have not yet said whether they plan to seek re-election. Three of the five seats on the commission will be up for grabs. The top two vote-getters will serve four-year terms, while the candidate in third place will serve a two-year term.
The filing deadline is noon Jan. 25. A primary election, if needed, will be on March 1. The general election will be April 5.