Archive for Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Soden, Boley, Herbert win seats on Lawrence City Commission; two incumbents voted out

From left, winners of the 2015 Lawrence City Commission election: Leslie Soden, Stuart Boley and Matthew Herbert

From left, winners of the 2015 Lawrence City Commission election: Leslie Soden, Stuart Boley and Matthew Herbert

April 7, 2015

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Three new faces are coming onto the Lawrence City Commission, and already there are promises of a new attitude on the way as well.

Leslie Soden — an owner of a Lawrence pet-sitting business, and a first-time elected official — won the top spot in Tuesday’s general election. Fellow City Hall newcomers Stuart Boley, a retired IRS agent, and Matthew Herbert, a Lawrence High School teacher, won the other two spots on the commission. Incumbents Terry Riordan and Bob Schumm lost their re-election bids by more than 1,500 votes.

“I certainly appreciate the service of past commissioners and their hard work, but it is time for a new direction,” Soden said.

Soden, who was the top vote winner in the March primary election and never trailed as the results came in on Tuesday night, said concerns about tax breaks and “misguided” budget priorities were a constant theme with voters throughout the campaign. She said November’s failed sales tax vote to fund a new police headquarters was a defining moment as well. She said voters were frustrated they were being asked to raise taxes for new police facilities when the Rock Chalk Park recreation center was funded without a vote.

“But I don’t think it was Rock Chalk Park that was the final straw,” Soden said. “It was the police vote that was the final straw. That was the defining proof that budget priorities had really gotten reversed.”

Soden also became the first woman to be elected to the commission since Sue Hack ended her tenure in 2009. Soden said she was pleased that streak was over but disappointed that it lasted so long.

"I never ran a campaign that said you should vote for me because I'm a woman," Soden said. "But women do bring a different perspective, and this City Commission does need a new perspective."

Lawrence City Commission candidate Leslie Soden watches as the results of the election come in on Tuesday, April 7, 201,5 during Soden's watch party at Merchant's Pub and Plate, 746 Massachusetts. Soden was the top vote-getter in the general election with 6,131 votes.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Leslie Soden watches as the results of the election come in on Tuesday, April 7, 201,5 during Soden's watch party at Merchant's Pub and Plate, 746 Massachusetts. Soden was the top vote-getter in the general election with 6,131 votes. by Nick Krug

Herbert, who finished fifth in the March primary but surged in the general election, also was promising a new attitude at City Hall.

“I think voters were saying ‘we expect you to be our commissioners. We want to know about projects on the front end, not the back end,’” Herbert said.

Herbert said the new commission will have an early opportunity to shape City Hall. The next commission will be responsible for hiring a new city manager. City Manager David Corliss has announced he’s leaving in May to take a town manager job in Colorado.

Herbert said he will emphasize the need for a city manager who can communicate clearly with the commission. He said he thought there were too many communication breakdowns in the recent Rock Chalk Park project.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Matthew Herbert, left, looks over updated election returns with current commissioner and vice mayor Jeremy Farmer Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Douglas County Courthouse. Herbert was the No. 3 vote-getter in Tuesday's general election with 5,739 votes.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Matthew Herbert, left, looks over updated election returns with current commissioner and vice mayor Jeremy Farmer Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Douglas County Courthouse. Herbert was the No. 3 vote-getter in Tuesday's general election with 5,739 votes. by John Young

Boley’s election night message was reserved. He mainly thanked voters, family and volunteers for their support. But he said it was clear that the new City Commission has some community-building work to do.

“We all have new responsibilities now,” Boley said. “One of them is to try to bring the community together on future projects. That has to be a top goal of the commission.”

Lawrence City Commission candidate Stuart Boley, right, is congratulated by Brent Teufel, boyfriend of candidate Leslie Soden, as the two talk on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Douglas County Courthouse. Boley was the No. 2 vote-getter in Tuesday's general election with 5,783 votes.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Stuart Boley, right, is congratulated by Brent Teufel, boyfriend of candidate Leslie Soden, as the two talk on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Douglas County Courthouse. Boley was the No. 2 vote-getter in Tuesday's general election with 5,783 votes. by Nick Krug

Stan Rasmussen, the second-place finisher in the March primary, took the biggest fall in the general election. Rasmussen, an attorney for the U.S. Army, finished fifth in the six-candidate field. His campaign in the closing days was dogged by concerns from some voters that he took $4,500 in campaign donations from a southeast Kansas family that has been active in conservative political circles. Rasmussen ultimately returned the donations and apologized, but he trailed early as vote totals came in on Tuesday and never gained much ground.

Riordan, a longtime Lawrence physician finished fourth. Schumm, a longtime city commissioner and retired restaurant owner, finished sixth. Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was 16 percent, which was about on par with the 2013 turnout of 16.5 percent.

The new City Commission will take office at next Tuesday’s meeting. In addition to Riordan and Schumm departing, City Commissioner Mike Dever also will leave office. The eight-year incumbent did not seek re-election.


Lawrence City Commission (three seats)

Candidate Votes
1. Leslie Soden 6,131
2. Stuart Boley 5,783
3. Matthew Herbert 5,739
Terry Riordan 4,180
Stan Rasmussen 4,049
Bob Schumm 2,859
Precincts reporting 64 of 64

Click here for a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the vote

None by LJWorld


Comments

Brett McCabe 2 years, 4 months ago

Leaders lead. They don't cater to the whims of every complainer or special interest. This group will make the 2015 76ers look like champions. Congratulations, Lawrence, you've elected a group of people that will be fighting Sam Brownback to see who can take us backwards the fastest and farthest

Hudson Luce 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, not. This group of leaders just caters to a different set of "special interests" than the ones you support, the ones who have ruled the roost for the past twenty-five years. This time, the people of Lawrence, who are being made to pay for all this corporate welfare, are going to have their voices heard - and acted upon. I'll bet some research into the current bonded indebtedness of the City of Lawrence for all of these projects, coupled with the tax breaks which act to shift the tax burden onto the people, will reveal some troubling data, which will require appropriate action to set right.

Melinda Henderson 2 years, 4 months ago

I am just always so disappointed when everyone forgets the PLC years. :(

William McCauley 2 years, 4 months ago

But hey, fear not.... We've landed on a whole bunches of lists! We're now number one for worst place to try to start a new business. And don't forget we high on the low wages list too.

David Holroyd 2 years, 4 months ago

I am disappointed that no one knew of the integrity of former commissioners like Marnie Argersinger, Don Binns, also,a teacher and Chuck Fisher, a banker.

The three new commissioners should hold themselves to the same standards as the three mentioned above.

Steve Jacob 2 years, 4 months ago

I guess never apologize for anything. Brownback has taught us that. Rasmussen blew it.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps taxpayers aka voters will gain some opportunities. The opportunity to vote on some spending issues and perhaps some enforcement issues.

Darrell Lea 2 years, 4 months ago

I voted for and support the work of all three of last night's winners. Now I'll wait patiently for the word "mandate" to appear in any LjWorld coverage of the election.

Phil Minkin 2 years, 4 months ago

Beware of Herbert. In an email I received he basically said that personal property rights allow someone to be the sole determinant of what happens to that property. There goes zoning and the public good.

Rick Masters 2 years, 4 months ago

Now I can finally sculpt my 10-foot-tall statue of Mayor McCheese. Payback to the neighbors for blaring Insane Clown Posse.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 4 months ago

Great news! Throw the bums out!! Get some new bums!!

Actually, I really liked Soden, she was the only candidate that came to my house and discussed issues with me. I am happy that she won in this election.

Schumbo... how does this guy even get in in the second place given his performance in his first "run" on the city panel.

David Holroyd 2 years, 4 months ago

I have had my concerns even with Mr Amyx at times and he knows, but the new additions to the commission would do well to consider the continuity of the commission. Why? Any prospective replacement for City Manager is going to consider the stability of leadership of the commission. To follow tradition may not be in the best interest of the city as it moves forward with a city manager replacement nor even with staff .

I would hope that Ms Soden, Mr Boley , Mr Herbert , all three would take the lead to divert , for the moment from tradition and continue with Mr Amyx until a search firm is hired and a City Manager is hired. Putting Ms Stoddard in is an easy call, but the ful time position replacement is not.

With the already contentiuous bickering, it would serve ALL commissioners well and the community to not rattle their own cages. Ms Soden is suspect many perceive but received a lot of votes.

Remember the integrity of Marnie Argersinger, Don Binns, Chuck Fisher . I would like to see Ms Soden take the unusual step forward and suggest to continue for a bit with Mayor Amyx A unanimous vote by the commission would serve the community well and demonstrate trust among the commissioners to the community and staff.

Ms Soden, you probably never knew Marnie Argersinger but I think she would like you and sadly she is deceased now but would be an excellent mentor for you. Mr Herbert, Don Binns also a teacher , would be happy to see another teacher involved. But Don was a no nonsense guy and would expect the same. Mr Boley , you impressed a lot of folks and ran a very low key campaign and won. I have nothing but admiration for Chuck Fisher, a former commissioner and banker. Both of you dealt with money issues, that you have in common as well as a quiet, steadfast demeanor.

The call is yours.

Phil Minkin 2 years, 4 months ago

Is this the same Don Binns who challenged a fellow commissioner to step outside and fight?

David Holroyd 2 years, 4 months ago

Probably ....and if he were on the past year, the place would have been a boxing ring. He would have called out the folks involved in Rock Chalk park for certain. Mr Minkin, one thing about Binns he could have cared less about the Chamber of Lawrence, Leadership,Lawrence or Cadre Lawrence. Now you want to comment on Chuck Fisher or Marnie Argersinger?

Scott Quenette 2 years, 4 months ago

Looks like the East/West divide is stronger than ever.

Ned Wolfsosoon 2 years, 4 months ago

I certainly hope this isn't the return of the Progressives that almost drove this city to the brink of ruin. If a sack boy at a grocery store can be a city commissioner then certainly a dog walker can be a city commissioner. If an anarchist can be a city commissioner then certainly an IRS agent can be a city commissioner.

This anti-incumbent vote happened because of shady Rock Chalk Park, the arrogance to think the citizens would vote for a tax increase for a new police station in a flood plain, and its advertising in the water bills like they pulled for the Library. The old police station was also voted down years ago. Voting for a double wide roundabout that is 20 years too early (waste).Then there are the tax breaks for apartment buildings/condominiums/hotels/free parking garage use for a City Hall favorite, while everyone else has to pay their fair share.

Let's just hope the special interest fringes on both sides can be put at arms length by all three of the new commissioners and we can get a new good unbiased City Manager.

Scott Quenette 2 years, 4 months ago

Any citizen of a certain age can be City Commissioner. Isn't democracy great?

Kate Rogge 2 years, 4 months ago

A big vote of thanks is due to the Lawrence Journal World's reporting of this election's issues and candidates. Great job.

Clark Coan 2 years, 4 months ago

Soden will be the sole progressive on the Commission, so I don't expect many changes. The banksters, land speculators, developers and Chamber will continue to control the agenda and the direction of the community.

Brad Hightower 2 years, 4 months ago

This election proves that the voters were upset with the current commissioners actions and wanted to send a strong message by not re-electing the two incumbents. The voters would have also sent Farmer down the road if he was up for re-election too. Farmer as apologized many times for his part in approving and fighting for projects against taxpayers wishes. Dever left and Schumm and Riordan were told to leave, now the new commission needs to tell Farmer he isn't going to be mayor because the taxpayers have voted you out.

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