Candidate Answers to LAN Questionnaire

Editor’s note: for brevity’s sake, the questions asked by LAN are included ONLY in the first candidate’s response. See headers indicating each question’s theme in the responses that follow. If you would like an email version of the original questionnaire, please email  

All responses are listed here in the order they were received.


Candidate Name: Terry Riordan;

Growth Management We have just witnessed a real estate driven bubble and its subsequent recession.  To prevent future overbuilding, taxpayer-subsidized expansion of infrastructure, and to protect the vitality of older neighborhoods, do you believe that the City should take a more active role in guiding the pace and location of growth for real estate, particularly in retail and housing?

In terms of housing, I believe the city should promote responsible, need-based growth, prioritizing quality, livable neighborhoods throughout the city. In terms of retail space, I think the city should look at ways to encourage redevelopment of existing real estate that is now vacant or under-utilized.

 Transparency in Government:  Currently, the public has only a few days between the release of staff reports for the Planning Commission and the Planning Commission’s public meetings. Recent City Commission agenda documents have been released to the public only days or hours before votes were taken. Should the public have more time to review information and have better access to materials supporting development proposals? How will you, as a City Commissioner, improve community access to information?  

It is extremely important that the public has access to information in a timely manner and that there is a reasonable period of time between the dissemination of a report and the subsequent vote to allow the public to review the proposal and express their opinion. We should explore best practices and establish guidelines for the planning commission and city commission to follow. 

Economic Development:  Who does the best job of implementing economic development programs and planning, the Chamber of Commerce or professional economic development planners who report to the City Commission?

The city and the chamber should work in conjunction, along with other stakeholders with a vested interest in our community, to develop a comprehensive economic plan and implement economic development programs.

Public Input Should the commitment of $25+ million in taxpayer dollars to a regional recreation center have gone to the voters for their approval? If not, why not?

Lawrence is in desperate need of new and expanded recreational facilities to meet the demands of our growing community. And while the Rock Chalk Park Sports Complex is an expensive and somewhat controversial project, the decision has been made and I trust city officials to ensure the project is responsibly executed.

Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan: Later this month, the planning commission will consider a text amendment proposal (TA-12-00206) to eliminate the requirement that development projects comply with the comprehensive plan. Do you support this amendment, i.e. a weakening of the stature and requirements of the comprehensive plan? Why or why not?

Both citizens and developers benefit from a process that is consistent and predictable, therefore I would not support the amendment to allow for deviations from the comprehensive plan. That being said, it is important to review the comprehensive plan on a regular basis to ensure that it is still in line with our community priorities.

 Neighborhood Engagement:

Are you a member of your neighborhood association? Please describe your past and current involvement with your neighborhood, if any.  How will you, as a City Commissioner, ensure involvement of neighborhoods and neighborhood associations in development decisions?

Neighborhoods are a vital part of what makes Lawrence the great community it is, and are part of the reason my family and I moved here in the first place. I am an active member of the Oread Neighborhood Association and have previously served on the organization’s board and was elected chair. As a city commissioner, I will work with both citizens and neighborhood associations to build consensus on projects.

 Candidate Name:    Rob Chestnut

Candidate website and contact information:, facebook/RobChestnutforCityCommission and and an e-mail questions.

Growth Management

The location of housing growth is important to consider for the City through long-term planning.  The pace by which it grows in not something that I believe should be an active role for the City.  It is not the role of the City to manage the pace of development, but to ensure that the development code is enforced evenly and appropriately in every case.  Expanding infrastructure is an issue, and I believe that the City should consider working toward creating more density within the city limits to leverage our existing infrastructure investment. 

Retail location is another important issue to consider for the City.  I do think it is appropriate to have consistent information on retail vacancy to provide perspective on current conditions.  It is one of many factors to be considered in any proposal.

Transparency in Government: 

The process of publishing information for public meetings has been fairly consistent since I have been involved with the city commission.  One item that is often overlooked that was installed during my first term was the future agenda item section that is online as part of each week’s agenda.  It has information about items for future consideration.  This could be more prominently presented in the materials.  It may also be helpful to put tentative agendas out for the next 2-3 week period to alert citizens about issues that would be of concern to them.

Planning items are slightly more difficult.  I know that timing of application completion is tough to gauge, but I think the same concept could apply with the Planning Commission.  They could put out a tentative agenda for a 2-3 week period.

Economic Development: 

I do not believe that the Chamber of Commerce and a professional staff member serve the same function in economic development.  The Chamber of Commerce has the responsibility of representing the City of Lawrence outside the community proactively, and they handle requests that come in from organizations interested in Lawrence.  Professional staff for the City is responsible for assisting applicants work through the process and prepare the necessary analysis for review by the City Commission.  I think that the best outcome is to view our economic development programs as a partnership between stakeholders including the City, the Chamber of Commerce, Douglas County, the University of Kansas and others.

Public Input

No.  The commitment did not require a new revenue source from taxpayers to fund the project.  That being said, I do think it would have been appropriate to have a community discussion regarding the various uses of the 1% sales tax that was approved in 1994 as part of the process.  This would have provided public input and provide more information on the various uses of the 1% sales tax including funding recreation. 

The fact that the 1% sales tax has no sunset clause is unfortunate.  The most recent 0.55% sales tax passed for transit and infrastructure sunsets in 10 years.  This gives the public an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the initial goals every decade.

Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan:

 I do not believe a text amendment is necessary.  Horizon 2020 was never meant to be a development code.  The General Goal is stated as follows:  The overall community goal for planning is to provide, within the range of democratic and constitutional processes, for the optimum in public health, safety, convenience, general social and physical environment and individual opportunities for all the residents of the community, regardless of racial, ethnic, social or economic origin. It is the goal of the planning process to achieve a maximum of individual freedom, but public welfare must prevail. It is the intent to meet and safeguard individual rights and vested interests in a manner which will create the minimum disruption in individual freedoms and life values.  If this spirit is maintained as we interpret the comprehensive plan, I believe we can work within the framework without being restrictive.

Neighborhood Engagement

I am not a member of the West Lawrence Neighborhood association.  My involvement with neighborhoods has been as a City Commissioner.  Quite honestly, I was very impressed with the amount of engagement at the neighborhood level during my first campaign and during my first term as a City Commissioner.  Neighborhood associations provide a ground level understanding of the issues most important to many citizens.

I believe the neighborhood associations have been very instrumental in providing input on development decisions, and I believe they have had a profound influence on many outcomes.  The examples that come to mind are saving trees on grounds of the hospital during construction of the new emergency room (Pinckney) and lightning on 14th street for safety between campus and downtown (Oread).  

As a City Commissioner, I will pledge to continue listening to neighborhood associations and work with them to create a better community.

Candidate Name: Scott Criqui


Growth Management

First, we need to revise and update our master plan. Horizon 2020 is out-of-date. The process of revision MUST be inclusive and take into consideration the needs of all citizens. The master plan must also have measurable outcomes, which are determined by our community’s priorities. Those priorities will provide direction on how we grow and develop as a community. The whole process should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still effective. Second, we should take a more active role in listening to our citizen, which will helps us in determining the kind of development that we want (and is healthy) for our community, which would be reflected in a new master plan.

Transparency in Government: 

Absolutely! Our citizens play a vital role in decision making process. A key platform point of mine in planning reform – an element of that platform is accessibility of the planning process, which includes resources being provided in a timely manner. 

Economic Development:  

I think both are needed. A city economic development planner would, ideally, have the best interest of the whole city. The Chamber of Commerce is the voice of businesses. However there are many important and missing groups in your question – neighborhood association, which provides the voice of neighborhoods, KU, Haskell, non-profits, businesses, public officials, .

Public Input re: the rec center: 

 A 1994 sales tax does not equate to a 2013 priority. The project should have been voted on OR the sales tax should have been voted on OR at least a vote to repurpose the tax. Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan:

No, I don’t support that idea (of a text ammendment). I don’t see the need to remove such language. Successful communities have and follow a master (comprehensive) plan. It ensures an attractive and well-developed community. Also, the master plan makes certain that everyone voice is heard and is playing the same rules.  

Neighborhood Engagement:

Over the past year, while running for City Commission, I feel I have developed some important and good relationships with neighborhood leaders. I would seek input from those leaders. I would also ask how the neighborhood associations want to be involved. I don’t presume to know how neighborhoods want to be engaged. 

Candidate Name: Leslie Soden

Growth Management:

Absolutely, as we cannot grow in all directions at once. I just met with the fire department union officials the other day, and expressed my concerns that we are growing on both the east and west ends of our city, which will not only affect response times for police & fire units, but also requires the construction of new water/sewer lines, which will add to the current load on our water & wastewater systems. Planned growth is not something to be ashamed of, but is the mark of a fiscally prudent & careful city, something that I for one would be proud of. Planned growth & controlled retail has protected our downtown and strengthened it, and now our historic downtown is a draw for residents and tourists, and something we are all proud of.

Transparency in Government:

Rushing through process helps no one and only hurts city hall’s public image of being fair, neutral and objective. If waiting another week or two is going to wreck a development proposal’s fiscal plan, then that doesn’t sound like a particularly sound plan to begin with. People want to engage in issues, but they have to have time to absorb information. It is hard work just to stay informed, so criticizing someone for not having all of their facts straight, when they are using their spare time to participate, is a direct assault on democracy. We are all entitled to have an opinion, and I have not been impressed with the current operating procedure of “killing the messenger” while ignoring the substance of their message.

Economic Development:

Independent ED planners, such as our esteemed City Auditor, I believe have the best chance of being neutral and objective. However I do not want to see this position under the control of the planning department or the city manager. It should be an independent position that reports ONLY to the city commission, and does not have outside business interests that remove their objectivity.

Public Input RE: the rec center:

Absolutely there should be a referendum. A vote 20 years ago is not a mandate for a $25 million recreational facility largely centered around tournaments. Sports is being given too high of a budget priority, when we have many, many other needs.

Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan:

The idea that we should not have comprehensive planning is short- sighted, and I worry it would become a free-for-all type of “wild west” for development. Our city commissioners need to stop granting so many variances, because it creates an environment that rewards that kind of behavior. The phrase “go ahead and do it, and ask for forgiveness later” seems to be standard operating procedure. We need to get serious about code compliance and supporting our long-term planning documents. For example, the Downtown Design Guidelines are one of the reasons our downtown has survived so many development attacks over the years, and now our historic downtown is one of the biggest tourist draws to our city. “Sustainable development” is something our city would be smart to look at, such as when the Sustainable Design Assessment Team were here in 2006 and did a report. [I linked to the report, fascinating!]

Neighborhood Engagement:

Yes I am, I have been a board member of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association for almost 10 years now, and was President between 2011 and 2012. Bringing in the neighbors at the last stages of a project is the absolute wrong way to go. Developers should get neighborhood perspectives, buy-in and collaboration from step 1, and city hall should encourage that collaboration. I have seen the development process go more smoothly and happily with the Poehler building at 8th & Delaware, versus the 6 story buildings planned for both corners of 9th & New Hampshire. Also making sure neighborhood voices are included on advisory boards would be important.

Candidate Name: Mike Amyx

Growth Management:

I believe the marketplace is a good indicator of future needs.  The recession was not predicated upon an overbuilding, but poor financial practices.  That being said, I do believe we should carefully investigate the extension of our infrastructure.  It must only be extended in a sustainable manner such that it does not become a burden on the existing parts of our city.

Transparency in Government:  

For the most part, I believe our city does an excellent job of providing adequate time for review of all materials relevant to an issue.  However, a few recent exceptions have created some concern.  I believe we should always be willing to accept relevant discussion and information regarding any issue, even if new information is presented at the meeting considering the issue.  I will continue to press for all information to be presented for public view & consideration before I am willing to act on any manner.

Economic Development:  

Our existing partnership of the County, Chamber of Commerce and City has worked well and should be continued.  This offers opportunity for input to the elected body from many different sectors of our community.

Public Input:  Should the commitment of $25+ million in taxpayer dollars to a regional recreation center have gone to the voters for their approval? If not, why not? .


Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan:

“This text amendment was initiated by the City Commission as a way to consider whether or not the project complies with the Comprehensive Plan. I think we are losing sight of the fact that our Comprehensive Plan is a guide. Very few issues are so black and white that the Plan would dictate the answer. At the present, many approvals require a text amendment. Regardless of whether the text amendment passes or not, I would continue to listen to all aspects of the arguments and make a determination I believe is in the best interest of all of Lawrence.”

Neighborhood Engagement:

There is no neighborhood association in my area; so, no, I am not a member.  As a City Commissioner and a former Mayor, I have worked diligently to be available to everyone, including neighbors and neighborhood associations.  I believe City Hall has done an excellent job of assuring affected parties are aware of any possible actions and have opportunity for involvement.

Candidate Name: Jeremy Farmer 

Growth Management: 

The City takes a more active role when it sits down with developers and neighbors to figure out the best plan for how to utilize land to get what we need in our community. We need a revision of our comprehensive plan with vision spelled out for the future growth and vitality of our community. In retail, we must not take away from our downtown, but provide residents with options in their neighborhood…especially access to healthy food.  

Transparency in Government: 

At the request of several LAN members, I worked with Scott McCullough to get the planning commission agenda in a more workable format for those without fast internet speeds. The public should receive access to information at least a week in advance to raise questions and have input, but understanding that sometimes that is not possible. This should be the exception, not the rule. 

Economic Development: 

In cooperation with the City and County, as well as leaders from other communities in the County, the Chamber of Commerce, with the initiation of the Joint Economic Development Council, will begin to involve more people in its objective to bring jobs to our community. The JEDC serves as a liaison between the City, County and Chamber, with varying appointments made by those governing bodies. I anticipate the JEDC will be fully integrated with the plans of the Chamber, acting as advocates to bring jobs here. Private ED firms wouldn’t bring stakeholders together in the community or be positioned to sell our community to many looking for a place to bring their well-paying jobs.   

Public Input: 

The current Commissioners acted within their realm of decision making. Few argued with the fact that this plan carried with it unprecedented opportunities for collaboration, and much needed gym space, which has been in front of us for the better part of a decade. As I’ve said from the beginning, most people have not been upset at the project, but the process. A public vote would not have reflected those concerns. Additionally, there are policies in place that would mandate a public vote to happen if a certain percentage of registered voters signed a petition requiring it to go to a vote. 

Adherence to the Comprehensive Plan:

It seems to me that we have many variances that need approval to modify our comprehensive plan. The question of the text amendment is just one issue about a broader one about the need to reform our comprehensive plan. We must get all stakeholders around the table, figure out what type of plans we want, and then stick to them. I would not be supportive of this text amendment to the comprehensive plan, but would seek to do what we can to modify the comprehensive plan itself so that less of these questions can exist and we can begin to have a strategy and become less reactive and more proactive. 

Neighborhood Engagement:

My neighborhood is currently leadership-less. I have attended two LAN meetings and have inquired from LAN leadership about how to form some representation from my Perry Park neighborhood. I will continue to attend local neighborhood meetings, as they are important to hearing issues that are important to people and having their voices represented at the City Commission. 


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