Incumbent Lisa Larsen makes strong showing in primary election; five other candidates will also move on to the general election
photo by: Rochelle Valverde
Incumbent Lisa Larsen comfortably led the pack of City Commission candidates in Tuesday night’s primary election, continuing her record as a top vote winner.
Larsen jumped out to a lead early and ended with a strong finish as the top vote winner by a margin of about 500 votes. After the final vote tallies for the evening were handed out at the Douglas County election office, Larsen — who also finished in the top spot when she ran four years ago — said that she was honored and humbled by the results.
“I want to really thank the voters for turning out, those that did, and their confidence in me,” Larsen said. “I really appreciate that and I take that to heart.”
When it came to what voters might be saying with the results, Larsen said she hoped it meant a vote of support for the work that the commission has been doing, but she added she would continue to listen to the community, learn from them and make changes as warranted.
Larsen said between now and the general election she would continue to focus on the commission as well as her top issues of affordable housing, infrastructure and the remediation of environmental contamination at the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant. She said the recently proposed addition of a housing initiatives division, which will focus on homelessness and housing, would be an important issue to watch.
Newcomer Bart Littlejohn, who is a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a past president of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association, finished in the second spot. If that result were to repeat in November, Littlejohn would win one of the two four-year terms up for grabs. The third-place finisher only wins a two-year term.
Littlejohn expressed appreciation for those who turned out to vote for him and those who have supported his campaign. He said he was running with a great group of candidates and felt lucky to be in the position that he was in.
“We are only halfway through the journey,” Littlejohn said. “We’re going to keep going, but this is a great start.”
Littlejohn said he thought Tuesday’s results meant that his overall message that Lawrence only works when it works for everyone was resonating. He said the central tenets of his message have been housing, economic development and equity, and making sure that the city provides the resources for everyone to excel.
There are signs the November election could be a close one. Incumbent Stuart Boley finished in the third spot Tuesday night, but by only about 80 votes. He will need to stay in the top three in November if he wants to win another term on the commission. Political newcomer Amber Sellers finished after him in fourth place.
Boley said he felt fortunate to be going into the general election with a really good field of candidates and thanked his supporters and all those involved in the election. He said he was grateful to the voters who came out and that he would keep talking about issues of infrastructure and city services.
“Talking about providing excellent city services that are fairly priced and equitably provided, that’s going to be what I continue to do,” Boley said. “That’s what it’s about for me.”
Sellers said in a news release Tuesday evening that as her campaign looks toward the general election, it will continue to share the message of a reimagined city leadership and moving initiatives forward where all have the opportunity to live, work, and thrive together.
The top six vote winners will advance to the general election in November. As of Tuesday, the fifth- and sixth place spots were held by newcomers Ma’Ko’Quah Jones and Milton Scott, respectively. Shawn Pearson, Chris Flowers and Gillian Rogers Shaw — the latter of whom did not campaign — held the final three positions. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday will continue to be counted until Friday.
In addition to the terms of Larsen and Boley, the term of Jennifer Ananda expires this year. She did not seek reelection.
Unofficial City Commission primary results:
• Lisa Larsen, 3,402, 21.01%
• Bart Littlejohn, 2,913, 17.99%
• Stuart Boley, 2,631, 16.25%
• Amber Sellers, 2,549, 15.74%
• Ma’Ko’Quah Jones, 2,300, 14.20%
• Milton Scott, 1,219, 7.53%
• Shawn Pearson, 612, 3.78%
• Chris Flowers, 423, 2.61%
• Gillian Rogers Shaw, 144, 0.89%