Army officer and planning commissioner Rob Sands files for City Commission

photo by: contributed photo

Robert Sands

Kansas Army National Guard officer and planning commissioner Rob Sands has filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission.

Sands, a native of Kansas City, Kan., graduated from the University of Kansas and has lived in Lawrence for more than 18 years. Sands, 37, has served on the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission since 2015 and said that he wanted to do more toward his civic responsibility.

“Serving on the Planning Commission for four years has been a really, really great experience and I value it, but I want to get more involved,” Sands said. “This is how I get more involved in the processes, by putting myself out there, running for elected office.”

Sands’ interest in city issues already led him to pursue a master’s degree in public administration at KU, which he completed in 2017. One of the issues Sands said he would like to address as a member of the commission is the city’s affordable housing shortage. Sands said he wants to make sure the city’s housing stock is meeting demands and providing choices for all income levels and housing types, and that he thinks there are policy changes that could help address those needs.

Sands also said that though he thinks more efficiencies can be found within city and county government, he doesn’t think the circumstances meet the criteria for a full merger, as has been discussed by city leaders. He said he also wants to see the city strengthen the downtown by getting more full-time, professional jobs to locate there.

Sands is an active-duty major in the Kansas Army National Guard and has been deployed overseas three times. He has served in several roles throughout his career, including a tank platoon leader, tank company commander, Afghan Army unit adviser, battalion operations officer and battalion executive officer.

The seats of commissioners Leslie Soden, Matthew Herbert and Stuart Boley are up for re-election this year. Soden has announced she will not be running for re-election. Sands is the third candidate to file for the 2019 City Commission election, joining veteran and nonprofit board member Dustin Stumblingbear and attorney and nonprofit board member Brad Finkeldei.

City ordinance requires a primary when the number of candidates is more than two times the number of open seats. The filing deadline for the election is noon on June 3, and the primary election will be held Aug. 6 if needed.


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