Newly elected members of Lawrence City Commission to be sworn in; commissioners to choose next mayor and vice mayor

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on Jan. 31, 2023.

The members of the Lawrence City Commission elected in the 2023 general election will be sworn into office this week, and commissioners will choose the city’s next mayor.

Tuesday’s City Commission meeting will largely revolve around seating and organizing the commission’s leadership for the next year. Two of the three commissioners elected last month, incumbents Brad Finkeldei and Amber Sellers, are continuing for a second term. The third, Mike Dever, is returning to the commission eight years after his last stint in office. Dever served on the City Commission from 2007 to 2015, including two terms as mayor.

Outgoing Commissioner Courtney Shipley will be leaving office after one term. Shipley was first elected in 2019.

Commissioners usually choose the mayor and vice mayor based on the results of the general election. If tradition holds, Vice Mayor Bart Littlejohn will be elected mayor by his fellow commissioners. Littlejohn won the second most votes when he was elected to the City Commission in the 2021 election.

Outgoing Mayor Lisa Larsen finished ahead of Littlejohn in that election; both are halfway through their four-year terms. Based on the election results this time around, that means top vote-getter Dever will likely be elected vice mayor on Tuesday.

But who will serve as mayor in 2025 and beyond will depend on the results of an upcoming election involving more than just commissioners. As the Journal-World has reported, commissioners earlier this year voted unanimously to put proposed changes to the city’s form of government on the ballot in November 2024, one of which would be a directly elected mayor.

Larsen is also set to deliver comments at Tuesday’s meeting before ceding the role of mayor, along with the newly appointed mayor and commissioners.

In other business, commissioners will:

• As part of the meeting’s consent agenda, consider approving the Affordable Housing Advisory Board’s award recommendations for Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars in 2024.

As the Journal-World has reported, the board voted last month to recommend nearly $3 million in funding for seven projects, including a supportive and rehabilitative permanent housing project from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the $1.3 million Floret Hill project — a new permanently affordable rental housing community slated for 14.5 acres on the southeast corner of Kansas Highway 10 and Bob Billings Parkway.

• During a work session, receive an update from Confluence, the consulting firm guiding the city’s Parks and Recreation, Arts and Culture Comprehensive Plan.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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