Frequent public commenter Chris Flowers files to run for Lawrence City Commission, citing bike boulevard, affordable housing, decriminalizing drugs as main issues
photo by: Submitted
Frequent public commenter Chris Flowers has filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission.
Flowers moved to Lawrence from Plainville in 1999 to attend the University of Kansas, and he also previously lived in Hays and rural Russell County. Flowers said what motivated him to run for the commission was his dissatisfaction with the bike boulevard the city recently created on 21st Street.
“I think they spent too much money,” Flowers said. “I don’t think it was done right. And part of why I’m running is to keep another bike boulevard from happening until they get the one they did right.”
The bike boulevard was the first the city created, and after designs for the project came in significantly over budget, the commission ended up scaling down the project. Flowers, who studied English at KU and is now a restaurant delivery driver, said he would prefer that bicyclists use the existing multi-use path on Iowa Street to travel from 19th Street to 21st Street instead of the current setup in which some turns for motorists are restricted and bikes are encouraged to use a portion of Ousdahl Road to connect to the bike boulevard.
Flowers regularly attends City Commission and other local meetings and frequently speaks during the public comment periods. He said other important issues for him are criminal justice reform and affordable housing. Lawrence is in the midst of a review of how its police department operates, and Flowers said that beyond that review it’s important for the city to consider changes to local criminal ordinances, including ordinances that deal with drugs.
“I want the city to do everything we can to end the war on drugs,” Flowers said.
For example, he said the city should decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms by drastically reducing fines and penalties, as the city has done for small amounts of marijuana. He also said he was OK with people growing marijuana because there is no legal option to buy marijuana in Kansas.
When it comes to affordable housing, Flowers said he’d like to hear about more ways that the shortage of affordable housing could be addressed. He said that while he wants to listen, he thinks the city should reconsider its ordinance that limits the number of unrelated people who can live together and make it easier to expand the city’s boundaries for development.
The terms of Commissioners Lisa Larsen, Stuart Boley and Jennifer Ananda are expiring this year. Larsen and Boley have filed for reelection, and Ananda said she would not seek another term. In addition to Flowers, several other newcomers are running: Ma’Ko’Quah Jones, Bart Littlejohn, Amber Sellers, Shawn Pearson and Milton Scott. Another newcomer, Gillian Rogers Shaw, filed for the election but has said that she no longer plans to run a campaign.
The filing deadline for the City Commission race was June 1. Because the number of candidates who have filed is now more than two times the number of open seats, a primary election will take place on Aug. 3. The general election will be on Nov. 2.