The director of a local food bank has filed for a seat on the Lawrence City Commission and plans to be a City Hall advocate for people in need.
Jeremy Farmer, executive director of Lawrence-based Just Food, filed paperwork Monday to run for one of three seats up for election on the five-member city commission.
“We have a lot of folks walk through our doors here,” Farmer said of the food bank. “I have spent a lot of time talking with them, and it really helps you understand that what happens at the local level matters.”
Farmer said he’ll push for the community to do more with technical education and for “innovative” solutions in the area of economic development.
“Half of our volunteers at the food bank are clients of ours, and they work their butts off,” Farmer said. “They’re not just people who are trying to drain the system. If we can get them some training to go along with their strong work ethic, they’ll have the chance to work in Lawrence, and that is what this community needs.”
Farmer, 29, was born and raised in Lawrence. Since July 2011, he’s been the executive director of Just Food, which provides food to people in need and also serves as a food bank for other food pantries in the area.
Farmer said his work with the non-profit agency has provided him good experience in trying to bring different groups to the table to work together.
“I’m passionate about building consensus among groups,” Farmer said. “I want to bring everyone to the table and talk about the issues so we can figure out the best way forward.”
He said if community leaders can do more consensus building it will help with the overall environment in Lawrence.
“I really want people to see Lawrence as this huge family that is inclusive and welcoming,” Farmer said. “I don’t want them feeling they are walking into a fight.”
With Farmer’s filing, there are now five candidates in the race: Rob Chestnut, a former Lawrence mayor and a chief financial officer for a Topeka publishing company; Scott Criqui, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission and an executive with a Lawrence-based home health care company; Terry Riordan, a Lawrence physician and a former Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioner; and Michael Rost, an attorney for a Topeka insurance company.
Three seats are up for election. City Commissioner Mike Amyx has not yet filed for re-election, but he has indicated he will seek another term. Commissioner Aron Cromwell also has a term that is expiring, but he has not yet indicated that he plans to seek re-election.
City Commissioner Hugh Carter already has announced he won’t seek re-election, but instead will focus on his new job with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates have until noon Jan. 22 to file. If seven or more candidates file, there will be a primary election on Feb. 26 to narrow the field to six candidates. The general election will be on April 2.