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Sound Off

Sound Off: I’m confused about how the city elects its mayor. How does the process work?

The five commissioners on the Lawrence City Commission choose a commissioner to serve as mayor for a one-year term. The selection occurs each April. Commissioners are free to vote for any commissioner they choose, but in most years they have followed an unwritten rule of electing the vice mayor to serve as mayor. Commissioners normally choose the vice mayor based on the number of votes a commissioner received during the public election that happens once every two years. For example, in the first year following a City Commission election, the top vote-getter is traditionally chosen by commissioners to serve as vice mayor. In the second year following a City Commission election, the second place winner in the election is traditionally chosen by commissioners to serve as vice mayor. The system basically ensures that the top two vote winners in an election each will serve a one-year term as mayor.

Comments

blindrabbit 2 years ago

tomato: Methinks your status quo ideas are a little overripe! Lawrence promotes the current system because it favors the special interest groups (their social set) including bankers, real estate, insurance, builders and other professionals. It is past the time when the real management in Lawrence is directly responsible to the electorate and not to some yearly personnel review by a bunch of chair swappers.

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autie 2 years ago

The city manager works at the contractual leisure of the commission. Bitching in this forum will accomplish nothing. Going to the meeting and speaking your mind might.

If you had an elected mayor that was a professional public administrator, you negate the role of the city manager and create the situation wished to be avoided. The city manager/commission form is highly effective for many cities. However, I think what somebody before suggested may have some merit, with a unified county/city governing body. But I don't think the people would let that float.

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Number_1_Grandma 2 years ago

The problem is that the city manager really runs this city. He tells the city staff what to do; where the commissioners ( And Mayor ) cannot. The popular vote doesn't elect the city manager and here lies the problem. By electing a strong Mayoral with commissioners elected out of different wards, the citizens get well represented and if change is needed, it can be implemented a lot faster. The Mayor should hold office for 4 yrs while commissioners should be elected every 2 yrs on rotation cycle. The city manager takes orders from the Mayor where as now it takes 3 votes from the commission to force city manager to make changes. Cronyism lives perfectly in this form or government since the city manager doesn't have to answer to anyone on a daily basis. Take a few years ago with Wildgen as city manager. The citizens screamed about how bad the roads were but Wildgen said they were fine. Couldn't get 3 commissioners wanting to step in for fear of 'micromanaging'. Roads got worse and worse until finally 3 commissioners didn't renew his contract. This takes to long for real decisions that need to be made. The public doesn't hire the city manager or fire him but by voting out a Mayor because the city manager isn't doing his job fast enough would. It's long past due for the election of a strong mayor position with commissioners being elected from different parts of the city to get good representation of the city as a whole. This 'merry-go-round' mayorship is a joke! It's time for a change.

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blindrabbit 2 years ago

Scrap the current process and implement a "Strong Mayor" form of city government. Enough of this city "beauty" contest crap. The City is too big to be serviced by this perpetual group of non-professional chair revolvers. Need somebody who is professionally trained and who is ultimately, directly accountable by election.

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autie 2 years ago

Deal is that in the city manager/commission form of municipal government the mayor position is really only a figurehead and the designated dude to cut ribbons and sign the documents. It has no real extra power. So it doesn't make a lot of difference who gets to sit in the middle chair and bang the gavel.

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50YearResident 2 years ago

How can a city run eficiently if commissioners come and go every 2 or 4 years? They come with no experiance, get their own agenda passed and are gone again. Then they select a Mayor with this system, you take it, no get Mikey to do it, he has more free time, or Cromie, he's a glory hound. I don't care as long as it's not me. OK, we'll give it back to Mikey. Then it's a done deal? Yep! That will get us by for another year. OK, all in favor of Mikey! Yes, congradulations, Mayor Mikey.

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RoeDapple 2 years ago

The "Good Old Boy" system. Not very progressive there, Larryville . . .

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skinny 2 years ago

Yes, It is time for a change. The current system is dated.

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CLARKKENT 2 years ago

HOW DOES IT WORK?----NOT VERY WELL!!!

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nativeson 2 years ago

If we really wanted to get progressive, Lawrence and Douglas County should combine for a unified government. About 86% of the residents of Douglas County live in the City of Lawrence.

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sad_lawrencian 2 years ago

The policy is outdated and backwards. The mayor of Lawrence should be chosen based on popular election. Other cities also have a city manager-council form of government (see: Wichita) but also elect a mayor at-large who occupies a seat on the city council. There is absolutely no reason why Lawrence should not follow suit. The current system is akin to the time when state legislators, and not the people, elected senators. The system of appointment of mayors in Lawrence should stop.

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xyz 2 years ago

After reading the JW response, if the Sound Off writer is still confused (highly likely!), see Kansas Statutes Annotated 12-1003 and 1007 and the Lawrence City Code, Article 1-202 and 203 for less confusing wording on form of government, number of commissioners and terms of office, and election of the mayor and vice mayor.

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