Archive for Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Soden, Rasmussen, Boley take top three spots in Lawrence City Commission primary

2015 City Commission candidates for the April 7 general election, in order of finish in primary, from top left: Leslie Soden, Stan Rasmussen, Stuart Boley. From bottom left: Terry Riordan, Matthew Herbert, Bob Schumm.

2015 City Commission candidates for the April 7 general election, in order of finish in primary, from top left: Leslie Soden, Stan Rasmussen, Stuart Boley. From bottom left: Terry Riordan, Matthew Herbert, Bob Schumm.

March 3, 2015


A small-business owner who railed against Rock Chalk Park two years ago and is railing this year against tax breaks handed out by Lawrence City Hall cruised to an easy victory in Tuesday’s primary election.

“Voters were really upset with how things have been handled the last couple of years,” said Leslie Soden, who finished in the top spot by more than 700 votes. “The public hasn’t liked the city’s budget priorities.”

Voter turnout

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said voter turnout was 13.6 percent for Tuesday’s primary election.

He said that’s a little bit above the average voter turnout for a City Commission/school board primary election. It was well above the last City Commission primary in 2013, when only 8.8 percent of voters turned out on a snowy day.

In total, 8,696 voters cast ballots in this year’s primary, Shew said. Vote counting operations went smoothly. Polls closed at 7 p.m. and votes were counted by about 8:30 p.m.

The two incumbents in the field — Commissioners Terry Riordan and Bob Schumm — were left with work to do ahead of the April 7 general election. Riordan finished in the No. 4 spot and Schumm finished in the No. 6 spot. The top six vote winners move onto the general election, but only the top three winners in the general election will receive a seat on the commission. No candidate in recent memory has moved up from the No. 6 spot in the primary to finish in the top three in the general election.

Soden, who owns a Lawrence pet-sitting business, ran for a spot on the commission two years ago and fell short by less than 100 votes after running a grass-roots campaign that criticized the Rock Chalk Park project and spending decisions at City Hall. In this year’s election, Soden said voters have taken to the theme in even greater numbers.

“I think the results tonight show that we need to stop the developer tax giveaways, we need to stop raising taxes on ordinary people and we need to start doing things like making mental health care in our community more of a priority,” Soden said.

If elected, Soden also would become the first woman to serve on the City Commission since 2009.

In addition to the two incumbents, the other candidates moving on to the general election are Stan Rasmussen, an attorney for the U.S. Army who finished second; Stuart Boley, a retired IRS auditor who finished third; and Matthew Herbert, a Lawrence High teacher who finished fifth.

Rasmussen said he did hear from many voters who said they were interested in change at Lawrence City Hall.

“But I think voters like my experience and my positive message,” said Rasmussen, who has served as a planning commissioner and on other advisory boards for the city. “I’m proud of Lawrence and optimistic about its future. I’m not an angry candidate.”

Boley said he believes voters supported him, in part, because he would bring more than 30 years of financial experience as an auditor to the commission.

“I’m a numbers guy,” Boley said. “It is a skill set that I think would be useful on the commission. I think it is a skill set that differentiates me from the other 13 candidates.

Riordan, who is a longtime Lawrence physician, said he did pick up on an anti-incumbent vibe while on the campaign trail. He said he’s working to remind voters that he has not been on the commission for all of the last four years. Riordan will be completing his first two-year term in April.

Herbert said he thinks the anti-incumbent theme will continue to play a role in the general election. The field was narrowed from 14 candidates to six candidates. None of the eight candidates who failed to advance were incumbents. Herbert said he thinks the remaining nonincumbents in the field will compete hard to pick up those votes that are now up for grabs.

Schumm, who is a retired downtown restaurant owner, did not attend the vote counting at the Douglas County Courthouse on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, a downtown building that he owns — which houses Bigg's on Mass — caught fire. Schumm’s personal office also was in the building. He was on the scene of the fire most of election day.

Candidates now will turn their attention to the April 7 election, where the top three vote winners will receive a seat on the five-member City Commission. Candidates will participate in a forum sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire St.

Candidate Votes
Leslie Soden 3,576
Stan Rasmussen 2,867
Stuart Boley 2,812
Terry Riordan 2,552
Matthew Herbert 2,458
Bob Schumm 2,090
Mike Anderson 1,466
Cori Viola 1,310
David Crawford 1,228
Kristie Adair 885
Gregory C. Robinson 788
Rob Sands 667
Gary W. Williams 308
Justin R. Priest 241
Precincts reporting 64 of 64


David Holroyd 3 years, 2 months ago

Soden, the first woman since Sue Hack. Sodden wants to stop raising taxes on ordinary people. How? But wants to spend more on mental health?? And the money comes from where?

Ms Soden, what is an "ordinary" person/people?

Brock Masters 3 years, 2 months ago

I can't speak for Soden so I will share my opinion.

Taxes are necessary and just about everyone should pay them. Taxes should not be so onerous that they make developing or investing in Lawrence undesirable. Nor should they be so generous to businesses that they shift the tax burden to individuals.

We don't need to provide incentives to build apartments for example.

On mental health - we can either pay to help those with mental illness or we can pay to incarcerate them. I choose to treat

My thoughts, not Sodens but I bet we are similar.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

My position is $28 million for more jail cells or a $28 million mental health clinic for obvious reasons?

Additionally a mental health treatment center might assist in paying for itself. Bring some higher wage jobs to town. Be able to access medical insurance money etc etc.

Plus this clinic would provide space so some jail cells can be made vacant. I hear the sheriff department is doing a marvelous job however they have plenty to do.

I hope our jails are not being managed by private industry that which favor keeping cells full in the interest of maintaining profits.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 2 months ago

From what I remember in the past, whom ever wins the primary will get a four year term (first or second in election) and sixth will not get in. The final four fight it out for the final spots.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Special Interest candidates have been identified = the largest campaign cookie jars. Voting in the largest money holders has yet to be the best choices for the people. I suggest record spending will get underway immediately for Riordan and Schumm to come in 4th and 6th was not in the cards.

--- The candidates with the most money:

No doubt the largest spenders will remain the largest spenders and yet again will receive the largest number of additional special interest dollars.

Why not reverse the status quo and vote in 3 that don't seem to be attractive to the Chamber and the developers which in essence are the same? There are some very smart choices in this group.

This will require talking up the grass roots community and getting out the vote. Not voting changes nothing. Low voter turnout seems to get the big money candidates elected.

Isn't it odd that well known incumbents need to spend so much money to get re-elected?

Not only that defeating big money will demonstrate to others that big money cannot buy our local elections...... the most substantial concern. And perhaps will attract other low spending candidates of substance.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Some Issues for the voters to be considering that are generally on the table.

--- Downtown Lawrence Guidelines

--- Parking Page 29 Table 4 provides some insight to parking regulations.

There is a city owned metered lot between the two newest projects that Mr Compton has on the table.

Now this lot and other city owned lots have been put on the table ,more or less, for discussion of "re-design" or to be placed on the market. Yes for sale to have additional office space,living space or retail built above the parking lots. Or additional parking could be provided.

Some feeling on this matter is that if the city decided to "sell off" this space taxpayers do not want to lose parking space nor do taxpayers want to lose money on a sale aka taxpayers want top market value for this property.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Now my feeling is new projects should provide space for their tenants otherwise valuable parking space is lost which would negatively impact sales for downtown merchants.

And downtown employees will be left with less or no parking to meet their demand.

City Planning had a handout available depicting which taxpayer owned lots might come up for re-designing and/or for sale. I believe this concept was introduced by a local architect representing local developers.

--- The Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods is looking at more long-term solutions while keeping the historic integrity of the downtown. K.T. Walsh wants to encourage the City to keep that in mind when considering new parking structures.

"Buildings on Mass should be the tallest and they should slope down as you go out. Historic pattern is to have the tallest buildings on either end of the block," says Walsh.

Walsh would like to see merchants encourage their employees to use alternative modes of transportation when they go to work. She also believes there are parts of downtown parking that are underutilized.

That would include the parking at the Marriot and the parking lots adjacent to that area near 6th and New Hampshire.

Members of LAN also proposed having developers have what's called a "land bank" by replacing spots their new buildings take away.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 2 months ago

In the past, candidates with the highest funding tended to do well in the polls. It would be interesting to compare campaign funds, number of votes, and votes by precinct.

I have a theory that the Journal World leveled the playing field with its summaries of each candidate. The candidates were able to state their positions clearly without huge expenditures.

Rick Masters 3 years, 2 months ago

Nothing has been the same since Fantasyland closed its doors.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 2 months ago

The only progress being made is making certain developers richer and the taxpayers poorer. Hope the top 3 finishers win again and number 4 and 6 disappear forever.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 2 months ago

Schumm and Riordan voted for a $12 million no bid contract to Tom Fritzell. No bid. $12 million. Vote them out of office April 7th.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

The rec center is not necessarily massively popular.

There are no just say no candidates on the ballot.

Nobody is saying no to economic growth. Nobody has said no to economic growth ever.

There is no hard evidence to document that investment would not have taken place without incentives. People are investing to make themselves some money.... no other reason. If local builders would refuse there are other builders in the region that would likely step up to realize this opportunity.

Gary Williams 3 years, 2 months ago

My congratulations to all the candidates in the primary, I would like to thank all those that supported me in the election I am very honored indeed. I will be endorsing Leslie in the upcoming election , she has a vision for Lawrence and i know she will finally bring what the community is in need of new beginnings.

Blessings to all Gary W Williams

Clark Coan 3 years, 2 months ago

Since 20% of those eligible to register to vote haven't registered, the actual turnout was lower than 13.6%. Once again voters booted out Bob Schumm.

Garth Atchison 3 years, 2 months ago

There will be a Bob Schumm retirement party at Rock Chalk Park on April 7th- -free to the public, especially to those that voted for him all these years. All you can eat curly fries and a reading of the Rock Chalk Park Audit will headline the event. See you all there.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 2 months ago

More appropriate day would April 1. He is and always has been a joke and Lawrence taxpayers have been the butt of that joke.

James Canaday 3 years, 2 months ago

Gary Williams:
308 votes is a terrible showing, you were way behind such unserious candidates like Mike Anderson. I think I told you you didn't look like a serious candidate, seems I recall doing that on a ljworld comment thread similar to this one. I will tell you I like some of your ideas but they seemed shallow, not poorly thought out on the details and who or what would provide the actual effort to get them done, i.e. homelessness.

Gary Williams 3 years, 2 months ago

Your opinion, My thoughts and ideas were displayed out clearly especially the issue with the homeless, if you went to my website you would have seen a more detailed information on my stance with the homeless community. You are also the one that mention about my campaign funds, That seems to be shallow thinking to me focusing mainly on funds instead of the issues. Not the last time you will be hearing from me I am already planning for the next one.

James Canaday 3 years, 2 months ago

Heckler and the other far left members of our body politic are screaming all kinds of class warfare, and trying to smear some candidates based on whether they took police/fire union contributions or developer contributions.

it occurs to me that these people are truly antigrowth though they like to claim otherwise. it also occurs to me that these are not te best ways to determine who the best city commission candidates are for Lawrence.

I do look forward to the time when our city commission is more representative, and members are elected by wards or precincts. though I wouldn't support Leslie Sowden, I am glad to see east lawrence get some representation on the commission. it is one area that is typically underrepresented on the commission.

James Canaday 3 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations Mr. Bolie! I did vote for you, and I am very happy with your showing in the primary. indeed for me your experience made a difference. you got yard signs?

Gary Williams 3 years, 2 months ago

Is that the only reason you voted for him "Yard Signs" really James Shumn, Riordan and even Kris Adair had signs, having yard signs does not make a excellent candidate. Now that is shallow thinking Mr. Canaday. Oh yes one more thing, you spelled his name wrong, its Boley not Bolie

James Canaday 3 years, 2 months ago

@Gary Williams, it was on your own website where I read your homelessness proposals. to be clear, I actually like some of your positions, and if I'd had four or five votes instead of three, I would've cast one for you.

yes, a reasonable and sensible candidate draws support in the form of $s from his/her supporters. it permits certain activities to happen, and it gives the supporters an opportunity to participate. if you are running again, good luck and I hope that will reflect growth and learning from this campaign.

James Canaday 3 years, 2 months ago

again @gary williams, I also often don't shift key some people's first letters of their names, so what.

if you read my comments RE Mr. Bolie, you'll see I was praising his positions and experience.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 2 months ago

It all boils down to this - tax fairly, spend wisely. People don't want to pay taxes, but want to see paved roads and police. It's the in between stuff that's difficult for elected officials. Too often they build things to put their names on and think that's what the voters want. Progressives have to be very careful because the generally are advocates of spending. Conservatives have a built in advantage because they start off with the argument, tax less, spend little. It's when the pot holes get out of hand and the police aren't there that the public takes notice.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

The 3 new faces should not be Riordan,Schumm or Rasmussen the three that have received way more money than the other 3. A documented fact.

Think Herbert,Soden and Boley = fiscally responsible and solid economic growth.

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