Advance voting deadline extended past noon Monday; here’s your guide to Lawrence City Commission primary election


Douglas County has extended advance voting until 7 p.m. Monday because of the snowstorm that’s on its way to the area. Ballots may be cast at the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts streets.


Large amounts of snowfall on Election Day: There has to be a joke in there about politicians and hell freezing over, but I can’t quite come up with it.

You can sit around and try to think of it before tomorrow’s Lawrence City Commission primary, or you can do some last-minute reading about the slate of 11 candidates vying for three seats on the commission.

For those of you still interested, here’s Town Talk’s version of a last-minute voters guide:

• The Basics: You can vote for up to three candidates when you go to the polls. The top six vote winners will move onto the April 2 General Election. The General Election will determine the winners of the three seats that are up for grabs. All Lawrence City Commission seats are at-large positions, so all 11 candidates will be on every ballot. Don’t spend your time looking for a mayoral race. Lawrence residents don’t elect a mayor. Fellow city commissioners elect a mayor from their ranks each April.

• The Vote: In case you hadn’t heard, it may snow tomorrow. It may snow later today. It may snow at any minute. The election will be held regardless of snow. Officials in the Douglas County Clerk’s office are urging voters to vote in advance, if possible. But do it quickly. State law requires advance voting to be shut down at noon today. You can vote in advance at the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts. At last report, more than 1,300 people had cast advance ballots.

• The Candidates: Look at the light blue box to the left for links that will take you to each of the profiles we ran on the candidates in recent days. I always think it is important for voters to know something about the background of each candidate, and that’s what these attempt to provide.

• The Race: This whole weather thing is making some candidates nervous. This primary election was shaping up to perhaps have a low turnout to begin with, because there is no other race on the ballot except the Lawrence City Commission race. Now, with the weather as a factor, it could be really low. To top it off, this is the most competitive City Commission primary I remember in quite some time. Only six of the 11 candidates will advance, and there are more than six candidates who are working pretty hard at this. In the past, the primaries largely have weeded out those candidates who just wanted to see their names on the ballot. That’s not the case this year.

• The Turnout: Not only will it be interesting to see the results, but it also will be interesting to see the turnout. The last City Commission election — the general election of 2011 — produced a turnout of only 13.5 percent. It was an election devoid of any real hot topic. The weather will complicate matters, but if voter turnout for this primary is above that 13 percent level, it would be a sign that some issue has gotten the attention of voters.

• The Fundraising: There’s money involved in most City Commission campaigns. I provided this report last week on how the fundraising was going for the various candidates. But since that time, the Douglas County Clerk’s office has created this handy link that allows you to look at each candidate’s campaign finance report. If you are interested in who is giving money to each candidate, this is the place to find out. Anybody who gives more than $50 to a candidate has to be listed by name.

• The Rec Center: I won’t say it has been a single-issue campaign, but the proposal for the city to spend $25 million on a northwest Lawrence recreation center has created a lot of questions out on the campaign trail. From the start of the race, the issue dominated most discussions. Here’s a link to a story we did on the position each candidate has taken on the recreation center. It will be interesting to see if the Primary Election gives us any sense of what voters are thinking about the rec center issue. If you read the story, you’ll see there’s a pretty clear split among candidates.

• Rental Registration: It hasn’t gotten the attention of the recreation center, but the idea of the city dramatically expanding its rental licensing program is a big idea. It has drawn the interest of the landlord community, I can assure you. There are some neighborhood advocates particularly interested in it as well. It may be a bigger factor in this race than people realize. Here’s a look at what candidates had to say on that issue, and a few others that were brought up during the Voter Education Coalition’s recent candidate forum.

• The Issues by the League: The local League of Women Voters has compiled a questionnaire that asks the candidates about a host of issues. Click here to read it.

• The Issues by the Chamber: The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has compiled a questionnaire that asks the candidates about a host of issues. Click here to read it.