Neighborhood leader and city board member Ken Easthouse files for City Commission

photo by: Nick Krug

Lawrence resident Ken Easthouse sits before a citizen advisory board assembled to review candidates for a vacant City Commission seat, Friday, Sept. 24, 2015, at City Hall. Easthouse is currently running for a seat on the commission.

Neighborhood association president and city incentives board member Ken Easthouse has filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission.

Easthouse, a native of Lawrence, has been active in local government the past several years and ran unsuccessfully for the commission in 2017. Easthouse, 35, said he wants to improve how the city operates.

“There are a lot of decisions that have been going on in the City Commission over the past two years where you sit back and you have to question how things have been going,” Easthouse said. “In my current positions that I’ve been doing, we’ve seen a lot of things the city can do better in.”

Easthouse is Public Incentives Review Committee chair and Prairie Park Neighborhood Association president. Easthouse is also part of a Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods study group that is examining the potential impacts of opportunity zones, which qualify those who invest in business or real estate developments in those areas for certain tax incentives. Last year, city staff submitted four areas in Lawrence for consideration and two areas — which encompass several neighborhoods, city business parks and the University of Kansas — were ultimately designated as opportunity zones.

photo by: Contributed photo

Ken Easthouse

Easthouse said his neighborhood involvement has let him see situations from the ground up and identify issues. For one, he said he thinks every neighborhood group has a story of when the city didn’t inform it about a project or other decision that affects it, and he said that the city needs to communicate better.

In addition, he said the city needs to treat sidewalks like city infrastructure and fund their repairs instead of putting the burden on property owners. Lastly, Easthouse said the city needs to examine its funding agreements with other entities, especially those with Douglas County, to ensure they are fair to taxpayers.

Easthouse graduated from Lawrence High School and Emporia State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a minor in journalism. He is a supervisor at a local call center, Maximus.

The seats of commissioners Leslie Soden, Matthew Herbert and Stuart Boley are up for re-election this year. Soden has announced she will not be running for re-election. Easthouse is the fourth candidate to file for the 2019 City Commission election, joining veteran and nonprofit board member Dustin Stumblingbear, attorney and nonprofit board member Brad Finkeldei and Kansas Army National Guard officer and planning commissioner Rob Sands.

City ordinance requires a primary when the number of candidates is more than two times the number of open seats. The filing deadline for the election is noon on June 3, and the primary election will be held Aug. 6 if needed.

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