Another day, another Lawrence City Commission candidate.
I reported yesterday that I expect Dr. Terry Riordan to file for a seat on the commission, and I still think that will happen today.
But now I’ve also been told that a Lawrence attorney is set to throw his name into the mix as well.
Michael Rost — a Lawrence resident who works as an attorney for an insurance and financial services company in Topeka — told me he also plans to file the necessary paperwork today.
Rost, 27, said he’ll seek to bring a dose of conservatism to the City Commission when it comes to financial matters, especially incentives for projects. Rost said he followed the issue over whether the city should allow tax dollars to be used to help pay for parking and infrastructure at the recently approved multistory hotel project at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
“I will be very, very conservative about what I think the city should do with taxpayer money,” Rost said. “My perspective would be that you would have to have a very compelling project that benefits everyone in the city to give taxpayer money to help a project like that.
“On a project like the hotel, I would say that if it is a good project that makes sense and makes money, it should be able to stand on its own feet.”
Rost grew up in Wichita, but came to Lawrence in 2003 to do his undergraduate work at KU. He moved to Topeka to earn a law degree from Washburn, but soon moved back to Lawrence. He currently works as an attorney for IMA Financial in Topeka.
While at KU, Rost was part of the KU Track and Field team. Rost, though, said he doesn’t yet have a firm opinion on whether the city should be investing in a proposed Rock Chalk Park that would include the city building a new $25 million recreation center, and KU and Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel building a new track and field stadium and other amenities.
“I like the idea of synergy between the university and the city,” Rost said. “I like that aspect of it, but in terms of some of the specifics about how it would be built and leased, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on that.”
Likely the issue won’t be one City Commission candidates have to deal with. At its current pace, city commissioners are expected to take the key votes to commit the city to the project by mid-February. The new commission won’t take office until April.
In terms of other issues, Rost said he hopes to provide a voice to commuters in the community, and he will emphasize the importance of the commission protecting the livability of Lawrence.
“I think there are maybe some different ideas about the direction of Lawrence, its appeal and what type of community we want to be,” Rost said. “I have seen a lot about trying to make Lawrence some type of tourist destination or Legends West or something. That has struck me as not being in line with the things that I appreciate about the community.”
If Rost and Riordan both file today as expected, there will be four official candidates in the race. Rob Chestnut, a former Lawrence mayor and a chief financial officer for a Topeka publishing company, has filed the a paperwork. So too has Scott Criqui, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission and an executive with a Lawrence-based home healthcare company.
Indications are that City Commissioner Mike Amyx will file for re-election to the commission. City Commissioner Hugh Carter, however, has chosen not to seek re-election, instead focusing on his new job with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. City Commissioner Aron Cromwell has not announced his intentions, but there are indications he will not seek a second term.