Lawrence businessman Bassem Chahine has filed to run for the Lawrence City Commission.
Chahine, who ran for the Douglas County Commission in 2016, said that he thinks the ideas he pushed during that campaign regarding “growth with balance” also apply to the city. He said he is not opposed to new development projects but that the city also needs jobs, livable wages and affordable housing.
“I’m all for growth, but we need to bring in more jobs also, so we can survive with all the apartments that are being built,” Chahine said.
Chahine, who moved with his family from the United Arab Emirates to the United States at the age of 16, said he is also focused on making Lawrence an accepting community. He said he sees the city’s search for a new police chief as an opportunity to make sure that law enforcement is balanced and help provide a safe place for everyone in Lawrence.
“Me being an Arab-American, and with all the crazy stuff going on in the news, I will always make sure that this is a safe place for every nationality and every person of color,” Chahine said.
Chahine graduated from Free State High School in 2003. He earned a degree in business administration from the University of Kansas in 2008 and holds a master’s and doctoral degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Chahine is the owner and operator of Medwakh.com, a business based in North Lawrence that imports, exports and manufactures tobacco and tobacco products. Previously, Chahine owned Lawrence Hookah House and Euphoria Hookah Lounge in downtown Lawrence, as well as two similar businesses in Topeka. He said he has sold those shops to other members of his family so that he can concentrate more on his bid for the City Commission.
"I have always wanted to be a public servant," he said.
Three seats on the commission are expiring this year, held by commissioners Matthew Herbert, Mike Amyx and Lisa Larsen. Herbert, who filed as a candidate for the City Commission race last week, is the only other candidate to do so thus far.
The filing deadline for the City Commission race is noon on June 1. Candidates will have an Aug. 1 primary, if needed, and the general election will be on Nov. 7. Primaries will be scheduled only if the number of candidates who file is more than three times the number of open seats.
Candidates filing for 2017 Lawrence City Commission electionJune 1 — Christian Lyche
May 30 — Mike Anderson
May 26 — Ken Easthouse
May 15 — Jennifer Ananda
March 31 — Dustin Stumblingbear
March 8 — Commissioner Lisa Larsen
Feb. 28 — Bassem Chahine
Feb. 23 — Commissioner Matthew Herbert
Related: Commissioner Mike Amyx announces he will not run for re-election (May 18)
Related: Seventh candidate filing forces Aug. 1 primary election (May 30)