Planning Commissioner Karen Willey files to run for Douglas County Commission

photo by: Dylan Lysen

Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commissioner Karen Willey, right, speaks during a meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.

A Douglas County farmer, entrepreneur and member of the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission has filed run for the county’s top board.

Karen Willey, 44, who currently serves on the planning commission as a county appointee, announced in a news release Friday that she has filed to run as a Democrat for the third district seat of the Douglas County Commission. The seat is currently held by Commissioner Michelle Derusseau, who is a Republican.

In her announcement, Willey said she is “passionate about county history, its present innovation, and working toward a positive future for all residents.” She said her campaign will focus on equity, economics, and environment.

“My time on the planning commission has made me aware of our need to broaden the range of voices that influence our policy decisions,” she said in the news release. “We need to make public engagement more accessible and less intimidating so we can hear from people with diverse community experiences in race, income, age, and identity.”

Willey said she also expects to be involved with the Lawrence and Douglas County sustainability departments as they work on a climate action plan to address climate change. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a doctorate in geography from the University of Kansas.

Willey said she’s lived her entire adult life in Douglas County and she currently lives on a farm with her family in Willow Springs Township, which is in the southern portion of the county. Along with her farming of grass-fed cattle, she and her husband Scott Eudaly previously co-owned several businesses, including the construction and rental company Baker Street Duplexes and the design and manufacturing company Bluestem Machine Works Inc.

Additionally, Willey currently serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Willow Springs fire district and treasurer for the Douglas County K-State Research and Extension Office’s executive board.

Willey is the first person to announce her candidacy for the County Commission, which has two seats up for election in 2020. The County Commission’s third district represents western Douglas County, including western Lawrence, the City of Lecompton, and the townships of Lecompton, Kanwaka, Clinton, Willow Springs, Marion, and parts of Wakarusa township.

The candidate filing and withdrawal deadline for the 2020 election is June 1, according to information on the county clerk’s website, douglascountyelections.com. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 4.

photo by: Contributed photo

Karen Willey

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