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.


xyz 6 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.

sad_lawrencian 6 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The policy is outdated and backwards.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.

nativeson 6 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.

CLARKKENT 6 years ago


skinny 6 years ago

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

RoeDapple 6 years ago

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

50YearResident 6 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.

Paul Geisler 6 years ago

Thank you for your accurate summary! I don't know why these people are making such a fuss. I actually think it is better that the authority & decision-making is distributed across the entire city commission instead of granting the mayor of Lawrence additional authority. The popular vote still elects the city commissioners so the current process is still influenced by the will of the (voting) people.

sad_lawrencian 6 years ago

You should read my first comment again---I understand Lawrence has a city manager/council form of government---and I STILL think the mayor should be popularily elected. You can have a popularily-elected mayor AND keep the city manager/council government system.

blindrabbit 6 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.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

The commissioners are all elected at large, so they are accountable by election, and I am sick and tired of "professional" politicians. I don't want them in my city. Besides the mayor is only a figurehead. The guy who goes to social functions, and he/she pounds the gravel at meetings. They don't set the agenda.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

So you are willing to pay a mayor to supervise the city? Right now I don't think the commission is paid anything or little of anything. If you have a problem with the city manager, so to the commission meetings and air your grievances, or send them emails. Get involved in your own city. Lots of committees that need people on them.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

" 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."

Can you imagine how that state rep from around Eudora, who claimed everyone in Kansas hates Lawrence, would react? It would almost be worth promoting unified government just to watch him foam at the mouth.

blindrabbit 6 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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