After a two-year hiatus, longtime Lawrence resident and financial professional Rob Chestnut is seeking a return to the city commission.
Chestnut on Friday officially filed to run for a seat on the Lawrence City Commission in the upcoming April elections.
“We have a lot of public projects that are being considered or already have been approved in the city,” Chestnut said, mentioning the proposed recreation center, the library expansion and a possible bond issue by the school district. “I want to make sure we are spending enough time on the core services, like police, fire, water, sewer and public works. I call them the ‘have-to’s.’ They are things you have to do.”
Chestnut, 51, served on the commission from 2007 to 2011, and was mayor for the 2009-2010 term. Chestnut said he did not seek re-election two years ago because he was in the midst of changing jobs. He previously was the chief financial officer for Lawrence-based Allen Press, and now is the CFO for Topeka-based Nationwide Learning, a company that produces writing-based learning products for elementary schools.
Keeping an eye on the city’s budget will be a major point of emphasis, if elected, Chestnut said.
“I spent a lot of time in my first term learning to understand the city budget, and I think I have a good skill set for that,” said Chestnut, who grew up in Lawrence and graduated from Kansas University with degrees in accounting and business.
Chestnut said he also wants to have a discussion about the city’s economic development strategy. He said the community needs to do a better job of targeting the type of businesses it wants to attract rather than reacting to proposals that come the city’s way.
“Our efforts up to this point, I think, have been more reactive than proactive,” Chestnut said. “We have to decide what industries we have some advantages in, and then we have to figure out what we do to target those industries.”
Chestnut also said he believes the city needs to start thinking about replacing Horizon 2020, its comprehensive planning document, which was approved about 15 years ago. He said he hopes a new comprehensive plan can be a more “flexible and simplified” document.
Three seats will be up for election during the April 2 general election. Incumbents Mike Amyx, Hugh Carter and Aron Cromwell all have terms that are expiring. None of the incumbents has announced whether he intends to seek re-election.
Scott Criqui, a human resources manager and a commissioner on the city’s Human Relations Commission, filed for election in June. Candidates have until noon Jan. 22 to file for a seat on the commission. If more than six candidates file for election, a primary will be held on Feb. 26.