Editorial: Commission complete

Filling a vacant commission seat was just the first of many important decisions facing the Lawrence City Commission.

“Let’s get to work,” Lisa Larsen said Tuesday night after she formally took her seat on the Lawrence City Commission.

There wasn’t a lot left on Tuesday night’s agenda, but Larsen has the right idea both for herself and the commission’s other four members.

Lots of business has been put on hold until the commission once again was at full strength. It’s time for the commission to “get to work” on a number of issues, including their top priority of hiring a new city manager.

Larsen’s appointment required some compromise among commissioners, and a stand-up action by Mayor Mike Amyx, who chose to avoid a split vote that would have required the city attorney to break the tie. Commissioner Matt Herbert expressed his support for Scott Morgan, the other finalist, who had experience as an elected school board member and was the top choice of the advisory group that screened applicants for the seat. Commissioners Leslie Soden and Stuart Boley expressed their preference for Larsen, a geologist and the only candidate whom all four commissioners had ranked among their top three last week.

Amyx had put Morgan above Larsen on his list last week but apparently decided that it was unfair to cast a vote that would have resulted in a tie and taken the decision out of the commission’s hands. Acknowledging that situation, Amyx said, “I believe that I was elected by the folks in this community to make decisions on their behalf. That being said, I believe Lisa Larsen should fill the vacant City Commission position.”

Larsen’s appointment subsequently was approved by a unanimous vote of the commission. She is a former business owner who has lived in Lawrence for 19 years but has not served in public office before. She will join Amyx and three members who have served only six months on the commission. That lack of experience means commissioners may have to work extra hard to keep up with the demands of their job.

With the selection of a new commissioner behind them, commissioners now should focus on filling the city manager’s job. Other issues also demand attention, but none of them is more important than finding the right person to fill that key role for Lawrence.

Congratulations to Larsen, Amyx and the rest of the now-complete Lawrence City Commission. The difficult and important decision four commissioners faced Tuesday night is just the first of many more to come.