Archive for Sunday, October 22, 2017

Voter Guide: City Commission candidate profiles

Six candidates — from left, Matthew Herbert, Lisa Larsen, Dustin Stumblingbear, Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson and Bassem Chahine — are seeking election to the Lawrence City Commission this year.

Six candidates — from left, Matthew Herbert, Lisa Larsen, Dustin Stumblingbear, Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson and Bassem Chahine — are seeking election to the Lawrence City Commission this year.

October 22, 2017


Editor's note: The following are condensed versions of candidate profiles that the Journal-World ran in July.

The terms of city commissioners Lisa Larsen, Mike Amyx and Matthew Herbert are expiring this year. Read about the backgrounds of the six candidates vying for the three commission seats and the issues important to them.

Jennifer Ananda

City Commission candidate Jennifer Ananda

City Commission candidate Jennifer Ananda

Ananda, an attorney and social worker, moved to Lawrence 17 years ago from Girard to attend the University of Kansas. While at KU, Ananda earned undergraduate degrees in film and English and later graduated with a law degree and a master’s in social work. Ananda is currently the deputy Title IX coordinator and policy specialist for KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access.

Ananda said the main focus of her campaign is sustainability, which includes the environmental, human and future sustainability of Lawrence.

She said she believes Lawrence can be more in the forefront when it comes to environmental sustainability. That includes more bicycle and pedestrian improvements, solar energy, electric vehicle charging stations, as well as incentives for builders to use environmentally sustainable methods and products.

Ananda said human sustainability means ensuring the availability of mental and physical health care, addiction treatment and affordable housing. She said environmental and human sustainability are what will make the future sustainable, and incorporating those aspects into the city’s comprehensive and strategic plans will make sure those plans continue to be relevant.

Another key issue for Ananda is growth and development. She said a main component of growth should be bringing jobs to Lawrence that pay a living wage. She also said she would like to take a “deeper look” at the city’s economic incentives policy to ensure it has specific enough guidelines to encourage such projects.

Above all, Ananda said the goal is for Lawrence’s evolution to have the community’s support.

Read full profile

Mike Anderson

City commission candidate Mike Anderson

City commission candidate Mike Anderson

Anderson, an actor and former local talk show host, moved to Lawrence from St. Paul, Minn. in 2004 to attend KU. He earned his doctorate in communications and while studying at KU taught courses in problem solving, research methods and public speaking. This is Anderson’s second run at a seat on the commission, following a candidacy in 2015.

Anderson said the main focus of his campaign is the economy and the arts. He said that he thinks some people think those issues are mutually exclusive, but that he sees them as correlated.

Anderson said he thinks the most special thing about Lawrence is the arts and that the city can do more to encourage the arts and entertainment industry in Lawrence.

Anderson said he thinks local leaders can look more to what other cities similar to Lawrence are doing and learn from their successes. He said the city is losing money by not having a conference center, and he is supportive of the idea to build one downtown. In addition, he said the commission’s choice to scale down the East Ninth Street project from an arts corridor to a more basic design is a missed opportunity.

In addition to the arts, Anderson has other ideas to improve economic growth in Lawrence. Specifically, Anderson said he thinks the city could do more to encourage entrepreneurship, including providing a revolving loan program or philanthropic scholarships. He said other ways to strengthen the economy and attract business to Lawrence include increasing the focus on technical training, attracting retirees, using economic incentives wisely, providing access to high-speed internet and improving the city’s walkability.

Read full profile

Bassem Chahine

City Commission candidate Bassem Chahine

City Commission candidate Bassem Chahine

Chahine, a Lawrence businessman, moved with his family from the United Arab Emirates to Lawrence at the age of 16.

He earned a degree in business administration from KU in 2008 and holds master’s and doctoral degrees in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Chahine is the owner and operator of, a business based in North Lawrence that manufactures and distributes hookah-related tobacco products.

Chahine said the main focus of his campaign is economic development. He said Lawrence is growing and he doesn’t think the city has enough large employers that provide full-time jobs that pay a living wage. Though Chahine noted the city has KU as an employer, he said the city needs to work more with the university and the chamber of commerce to actively recruit more businesses.

Chahine said the city could better utilize economic incentives to attract primary employers as well as provide more incentives for existing businesses to expand. He said he thinks the community needs a plan with specific objectives for how it will add jobs to the city quickly. He said he’d like to see more KU graduates able to find jobs in their field in Lawrence.

Another issue Chahine said he is concerned about is the city’s infrastructure. He said making sure the city’s streets, sidewalks, water lines and sewers are in good shape also helps create the sense of community that can attract primary employers.

Chahine is also focusing on public safety. He said a key component of the issue is handling mental health differently. He said he sees mental health as an issue for both the city and the county to address, and that mental health and drug courts should provide an alternative to criminal courts.

Read full profile

Matthew Herbert

City commission candidate Matthew Herbert

City commission candidate Matthew Herbert

Herbert, who grew up in Lawrence, joined the commission in 2015. He holds bachelor's degrees in education and history and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from KU. Herbert owns a property management company and teaches government and comparative politics at Lawrence High School.

Herbert said his main issue is asset management. Herbert said the city has built several buildings in recent years, but has been deficient in the long-term financial management of those buildings. Herbert said he thinks the commission needs to look to alternative forms of revenue to maintain those assets.

For instance, Herbert said the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center serves a great purpose but needs to be more financially sustainable. He said he thinks other funding sources should be pursued, such as corporate partnerships or program sponsorships from the various industries for which Peaslee Tech provides training.

Another issue concerning Herbert is making sure the commission, in addition to efforts to attract businesses, keeps in mind that there are artists and people working in creative fields that can work from any city. Herbert said attracting those residents is especially important given the city budget’s reliance on sales tax revenue. He said elements that make Lawrence a desirable place to live include arts and culture attractions, completion of the Lawrence Loop, strong Parks and Recreation programs, and well-maintained parks and infrastructure.

He said infrastructure improvements should be equitably paid for and distributed, including in older parts of the city. Herbert said that also means reconsidering the city’s use of benefit districts and its ordinance that requires property owners to pay for repairs to sidewalks adjacent to their property.

Read full profile

Lisa Larsen

City commission candidate Lisa Larsen

City commission candidate Lisa Larsen

Larsen, a retired geologist, was chosen by the commission in October 2015 to fill the seat vacated by former mayor Jeremy Farmer. Growing up, Larsen lived in various states before her father retired from the military and her family moved to the central Kansas town of Larned.

Larsen earned her bachelor’s degree in geology from Fort Hays State University, and after several years working in the field started her own business. She moved her environmental consulting firm, Larsen & Associates, to Lawrence about 20 years ago. She sold her firm in 2014.

Larsen said one of her top goals is ensuring the commission’s strategic plan comes to fruition. The plan includes eight short-term priorities, such as comprehensive facility maintenance, priority-based budgeting and long-term financial strategy.

Also within the plan is economic development, another of Larsen’s top issues. She said although she believes economic development is a key component to making Lawrence a better community, the impact on neighborhoods must also be considered.

Regarding economic incentives, Larsen said the commission should continue to judge each project based on its own merits within the guidelines of the recently revised economic incentives policy. She also said she’d like to encourage small businesses and projects that incorporate environmentally sustainable components.

Larsen is also concerned with the shortage of affordable housing, which national health rankings have designated as “severe” in Douglas County. Larsen said she supports the city’s decision to include affordable housing funds in its five-year capital improvement plan. She noted that last year those dollars were distributed to local nonprofit organizations, which used them to leverage additional funding.

Read full profile

Dustin Stumblingbear

City commission candidate Dustin Stumblingbear

City commission candidate Dustin Stumblingbear

Stumblingbear, a retired veteran, moved to Lawrence in 2009. Stumblingbear is a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and was born in Tucson, Ariz. He spent most of his youth living in either Albuquerque, N.M., or Lawrence.

After serving six years in the army, which included two tours in Iraq, Stumblingbear retired as a specialist in 2009. Currently, Stumblingbear serves on the board of Independence Inc., which provides advocacy, support and training for people with disabilities.

Stumblingbear said a main focus of his campaign is the city's shortage of affordable housing. Stumblingbear said Lawrence residents — including those working in lower-paying jobs — don’t just need affordable places to live, but also quality places to live.

Stumblingbear said he thinks the city should continue to work with nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and Tenants to Homeowners to help fund affordable housing projects. Stumblingbear said he is in favor of repurposing the 0.05 percent sales tax to fund affordable housing. If approved by voters, the sales tax would provide about $1 million annually for affordable housing from 2019 to 2029.

Another issue Stumblingbear is focusing on is infrastructure. He said the city needs maintenance plans to ensure the long-term quality of water pipes, sewage lines, roadways and sidewalks. He said the city should focus on projects that will lower maintenance costs over the long run.

A third issue concerning Stumblingbear is economic development. He said he’d like to increase the city’s tourism and sales tax revenue by bringing more major sporting and arts and culture events to Lawrence.

Read full profile


Bob Forer 5 months ago

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to surmise that Mike Anderson;s world vision is on all, fours with Doug Compton.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

You said it and I agree .....

Still trying to convince Lawrence taxpayers that Lawrence can be a Kansas City/KCMO metro which is simply a waste of time and tax dollars. If Lawrence taxpayers wanted that as part of a lifestyle then it seems moving to Kansas City would be the sensible step.

"Free Lunch: How Local Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Taxpayer Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)." This reveals how local government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the local poor and the local middle class to the rich politically connected.

Bill Moyers

David Cay Johnson – The Free Lunch

This is a all about trying to make Lawrence appear as something it isn't as local government has catered to the Lawrence 1% for too long.

Paul Beyer 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Looked at candidates, Quickly eliminated Larsen and Herbert based on current record in office. Looked at Anderson and based on profile, eliminated him. So other 3, based on their not being like the above 3 will vote for them. Hell of a note simply voting for unknowns hoping they will be better than the knowns.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

It’s time to consider eliminating sales taxes on groceries.

Sales Tax Issue - Vote NO then send it back to the city commission for a revised ballot.

I say vote NO. I want the tax voted down then revised

This is how I believe this sales tax should be revised and approved to make it efficient and practical spending. I respectfully request the sales tax be absolutely dedicated to the following:

=== 0.05%% dedicated specifically to Public Transit is necessary for low income families, students, seniors who can no longer drive and for those who cannot afford to own a vehicle and for those who choose not to own a vehicle

=== .3% dedicated specifically to Affordable Housing as it seems there is a huge need for such and would provide enough money to make a substantial impact. Who provides the best bang for the tax buck and tenants? Tenants to Homeowners

=== .2% dedicated specifically to the following which improves the quality of life throughout Lawrence,Kansas and provides safe travel for a broad spectrum of the population. = recreational path infrastructure/recreational trails and paths = sidewalks/improvements to crosswalks and accessible ramps = safe travel walk to school and back home

Why is this important?

  1. Reduces travel costs

  2. Promotes an active and healthy lifestyle

  3. Expands mobility options for all in Lawrence,Kansas

  4. Provides environmental benefits through reduced traffic congestion which in turn improves air quality.

The collection of such sales tax to commence on April 1, 2019 and shall terminate ten years after its commencement, all in accordance with the provisions of K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 12-187 et seq., and amendments thereto?”

Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

City officials have said there is time before it expires in 2019 to modify the sales tax renewals and include them in a subsequent election.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Mainstreet Coalition FYI - a source of interest backing voter rights, public education, sensible taxation, women’s rights and moderate candidates.

Offers up suggestions from both sides of the aisle based on best candidate.

=== See who we have endorsed

=== Get informed -

=== MainPAC

=== See how the extremists pick their candidates in our survey comparison


Michael Dennis 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't get it. Eliminate someone based on profile? They're all straight on head shots!

But seriously, great ringing endorsement for Anderson is that all the LJW Comments know-it-all bullies are against him. Another is that he has the great skills of listening, analyzing, and adapting. That's what a Liberal (save the juvenile and trite Congenital Liberal responses) Arts Ph.D.brings to the table and I wish there were more of those qualities in our politics. Also, with no training or experience, he built a reasonably well-known local access television show from scratch. On it, he showed his ability to connect with all sorts of community leaders. Did he tell jokes? Sure, it was a late night talk show.

He's young and energetic and personable as hell and a total go-getter. And PhDs, for all the sarcasm I am sure this will attract, are by nature, incredibly smart.

You want someone new and effective? Mike Anderson.

Paul Beyer 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Since you have no idea what a profile refers to, your "ringing" endorsement solidifies my decision to "NOT" vote for him.

Michael Dennis 4 months, 4 weeks ago

For those of you fed up with the treatment of women by way too many men who exert power and control in a variety of despicable ways, vote Jennifer Ananda. Not because she is a woman but because of what she and her career are all about. So much more important than what the next fraction of a penny from our taxes goes to.

That fraction of a penny should go to affordable housing by the way (yes on ballot question #3). And Dustin S. Is your guy on that issue.

Vote everybody!

Anderson, Ananda, Stumblingbear!!

Nathan Anderson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm not interested in someone that's a part of the current kangaroo court system at KU.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

If current design of sale tax issue does not pass City Officials have said there is time before it expires in 2019 to modify the sales tax renewals and include them in a subsequent election.

Michael Dennis 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Nathan, can you specify what you mean by that, please?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.