There’s just more than a month until the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2 (and the voter registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 12 — see key voting dates here).
Six candidates moved on from the August primary; three of them will take office.
The Lawrence Times sent out candidate questionnaires during the primary. We wanted to start off with something a little bit different from typical election coverage and give you a chance to learn more about the human side of your candidates. So we asked some standard questions about why they decided to run for office — but also some more fun, lighthearted questions. If a candidate’s answer is not listed for a particular question, they chose to skip it.
Now, approaching the general election, we’ve narrowed the questionnaire down to your current choices on the ballot. We also gave the candidates a chance to update their answers, so some things here have changed. Here’s what they had to say. (The primary election questionnaire is here.)
Find the Times’ coverage of the Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board elections on this page.
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Meet the candidates for Lawrence City Commission
In alphabetical order by last name:
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones (she/her)
Occupation: Community Advocate
Lived in Lawrence: 8 years
Links: Email; TBA
Q: Tell us about your educational background?
Stuart Boley: I received a bachelors degree from K.U. with majors in English and Modern European Studies. Later I took courses in accounting and business law that were related to my work as an IRS agent.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: I started attending Haskell Indian Nations University in 2009 as a non-traditional student studying Indigenous and American Indian Studies. In 2011, I graduated with an associate’s degree. I, then, transferred to Dartmouth College and completed a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Government and in Native American Studies in 2014. In 2015, I graduated from Vermont Law School with a Master of Environmental Law and Policy degree.
Lisa Larsen: B.S. Geology from Fort Hays State University
Bart Littlejohn: I came to KU to go to school and ended up being one of those folks who never left after I graduated. I graduated with a degree in Political Science.
Milton Scott: I am a graduate of the University of Kansas. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications Studies, and a Master of Science in Education – Higher Education.
Amber Sellers: Master of Science: Public Administration/Urban Emphasis, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Master of Science in Education: Health Education, University of Kansas; Bachelor of Science in Education: Sports Science, University of Kansas
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family and/or pets?
Stuart Boley: My wife and I have been married for forty three years. We have three grown children and share our dog with one of my daughters. He spends half each week with us and the rest with my daughter and her partner.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: I am the second oldest of four children. I have an older sister and two younger brothers. I also have five nieces. My mom still lives in Earlsboro, OK. My “Dad” passed away in 2020, while my biological father still resides in Oklahoma City, OK. I have numerous cousins, aunts and uncles that largely still live in Oklahoma. I have five children: Chehalis (18), KJ (15), Nashoba (10), Cokkoloswovce (7) and Hvyayvkē (3) that keep me on my toes, every day.
Lisa Larsen: Two children (Scott and Andrea), five grandchildren, and a dog and cat named Watson and Shadow, respectively.
Bart Littlejohn: We’ve got a young son and 2 dogs.
Milton Scott: I am a single parent with two adult children and three grandchildren. I have a 14-year-old dog. As a single parent, I have personally encountered a wide range of family and child-related issues that will help guide me as an elected official.
Amber Sellers: Single; no children; Aunt to 8 beautiful nieces and nephews; plant mother.
Jump to a question:
• What specific experiences, in your career and/or personal life, make you believe you’re qualified to serve on the city commission?
• What do you think are the 3 most pressing concerns facing the people of Lawrence and why?
• When and why did you decide to run for Lawrence city commission?
• What local leadership roles have you held, and how will that experience benefit the people of Lawrence if you’re elected?
• What do you think you bring to the table that sets you apart from all the other candidates?
• What is one city advisory board, council, committee, etc. that particularly interests you, and why?
Q: What specific experiences, in your career and/or personal life, make you believe you’re qualified to serve on the city commission?
Stuart Boley: As a resident of Lawrence for over forty years I’ve gained both a love of the community and some understanding of it. I’ve volunteered with the Lawrence Community Nursery School, the Schwegler Neighborhood Association, Boy Scout Troop 59, the Sister Cities Advisory Board, the Traffic Safety Commission, Douglas County Extension Service and the NAACP History Committee. I worked for over 32 years as an IRS agent and after that served six years as the administrative officer of the Douglas County Community Foundation. I’ve served six years as a city commissioner, having been elected in 2015, serving as mayor during 2018 and then being reelected in 2019.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: I started attending Haskell Indian Nations University in 2009, during a very difficult time for my family. My family was mourning the death of my son, Osceola, who was 7 months old. During my first semester at HINU, my son passed away. It was the people at Haskell that rallied around me and completely supported my family. The ceremonies and prayers that helped heal me came from our tribal cultural ways. Relearning my culture taught me the importance of protecting the land. I learned that without the environment, these old songs and ceremonies could not continue. In order to protect the culture, we need to protect the land. My personal loss is what led me to environmental protection. After graduating with my master’s degree, my family decided to make Lawrence our home. That is when I started getting involved in local politics because I wanted to make sure that good people were getting elected. I specifically wanted to make sure that candidates knew about the issues of underrepresented communities. When elected representatives talked about Haskell, I wanted them to know my experience. During my time living in Lawrence, I have studied the landscape and the effects of climate change. I have worked with the League of Women Voters and walked door-to-door and registered new voters. I have benefitted from community resources. I have volunteered on campaigns for candidates that do the work to understand the issues of marginalized experiences. I serve on the City of Lawrence Sustainability Advisory Board that is working toward achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035. What qualifies me to serve on City Commission is that I have worked and continue to work hard to protect the city of Lawrence. My work does not just focus on people, but the environmental health of the land as well. I will work hard to help families in need in the same way that my family was helped during our time of need. I have organized the community around specific issues. I want to see Lawrence families be able to support their families through labor union jobs. My education and my lived experience are what gives me a unique insight into the different perspectives of Lawrence.
Lisa Larsen: My 30-year professional career was spent working 8-years as an Environmental Geologist for the State of Kansas and a private firm, and 22-years building and operating my own environmental consulting firm specializing in government contracted environmental investigations and remediations and installing Geothermal systems. I have also served on the Lawrence City Commission for 5 ½ years and served on several boards and committees focused on Lawrence issues.
Bart Littlejohn: I would say one the greatest learning experiences I’ve had was when I went door to door in Pinckney to learn more about our neighborhood. It was part of a program that I started called ‘Walk Pinckney’ because I noticed that we were missing out on parts of our community. Pinckney has a varied income level so I wanted us to eliminate potential barriers to access by meeting people where they are. I was great to see how open our neighbors were and they let me know what we were missing, what we were doing well and how we could help going forward. Importantly, the sense I got from those conversations is how they much they appreciated the effort to seek them out and be heard. I was extremely grateful to have those conversations and they inform my actions to this day. It is my hope to carry that forward and continue to have conversations with other parts of the city so that we can make Lawrence the city that we want it to be.
Milton Scott: I am the only city commission candidate that has administered affordable housing programs. I spent most of my professional career in affordable housing and know the issues both locally and nationally. I was Director of Programs and Property Management with the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority for more than 20 years, and was Executive Director of the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority. Over the years I have worked with and cultivated relationships with local community housing providers and partner agencies. I successfully administered and written grants for federal programs including the Moving to Work (MTW) initiative. I worked closely with transitional housing, public housing, and Section 8 programs. In addition, I oversaw the HOPE House program that housed chronically homeless individuals with dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse.
Amber Sellers: I have over 10 years of progressive work experience in public health covering operations, health outreach, community engagement, resource utilization and administrative support. My current position in administration and policy affords me the opportunity to deepen my understanding and practice of regulatory administration as well as provide input on how to strengthen the delivery of program objectives and ensure impactful outcomes for families across the lifespan. I bring skills in strategic planning, communication, data analysis, and partnership engagement to the table, skills that I have developed through such varied experiences as grassroots organizing of individuals and organizations in my community to program evaluation and research in the public health arena. I have an adaptive leadership style and the ability to engage and mobilize people. I understand policy and how to center us in the region. I am also a connector, so, to me, nothing about policy or analysis or any of my technical expertise makes sense except in light of centering people around policy. So, for example, when we are talking about affordable housing, housing needs to looks like a place for the family that is just starting, a single parent with multiple children, or the community professional—we need to build housing that is needed. We need to move housing in a direction that we all can embrace. We need to be able to say we are a community that has housing for a teacher, for a firefighter, for the grocery store worker. Our community partners are developers and realtors and builders and housing service providers, and it is the homeless mother of four who is struggling to get transportation to work. My life and my work is directly connected to solving such problems to increase community health, connecting to the people we have not yet listened to.
Q: What do you think are the 3 most pressing concerns facing the people of Lawrence and why? (Be as specific or as broad as you’d like.)
Stuart Boley: City services: Public safety, transportation infrastructure, utilities, and parks and recreation constitute our city’s core services. When all of these city functions are working well and are managed cost efficiently, no one really notices. But when one or more of them is experiencing difficulty, residents feel the effects. Providing the community with these services equitably and well is the number one job of Lawrence city government and my top priority. Remediation of the Farmland Industries property: The money that the city received in 2010 when we took over the property has run out, and the remaining cost of remediation may reach $40 million. We need to manage this effectively and seek funds from both the state and federal governments. Homelessness: Our community expects the city to be involved in addressing this significant issue. We are working with our community partners and Douglas County on the Built For Zero initiative.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: Houselessness and access to resources; Advocacy for victims of domestic violence; Sustainable environment for public health
Lisa Larsen: Policing – We recently had a comprehensive study done to evaluate our police department. From that study came 60 Findings and 75 Recommendations that need to be addressed. Some of the findings/recommendations included the Police Department’s lack of community engagement, and the ability to build trust within our community, especially with people of color. Addressing these 75 recommendations, will take a commitment by our officers, city staff, and our community to work through these for the betterment of our community members and to build the trust that is the foundation of a good relationship. This will start with an 11-member committee to develop a plan for implementing the recommendations. This plan is due to the Commission in later summer-early fall. People without Homes – This is a local and national problem that continues to grow each year. The resources available to address the needs of many are never enough. The problems are complicated and require expertise to better address the needs. Our community has the experts through our many social service organizations such as Bert Nash and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to name just a few. It will take serious collaboration and commitment from the county, city, and service organizations to develop a plan that addresses the needs. The planning process is progressing. The City Commission voted to implement the “Built for Zero” housing model that essentially provides a program that gets people housed as quickly as possible so that the number of people coming into the homeless system is near equal to the number of people getting housed. I believe the City’s strength is our ability to add hard assets. The management of the properties along with wrap-around services should be left to those in our community who have been successfully implementing these types of programs for decades. We also need to consider the impact on our community. The growth of the homeless population, coupled with the impact from COVID has created a situation that has allowed camping in areas that normally would not be allowed, such as the downtown district, parks, and trails that border residential areas. This has caused disturbance to the neighborhoods and commercial districts and has grown to the point that there are significant concerns for safety of person and property. We must not forget that the right to a peaceful community extends to all. As we re-evaluate our policies, we need to ensure that the protection of our neighborhoods and commercial districts are carefully considered in the decision-making process. While we have begun the process of removing campsites from various locations throughout Lawrence, the work to keep these areas safe for all may continue to be a challenging task. We want to help those who are mentally or physically ill, or those that are connected to our community and need temporary assistance. However, we must insist that we cannot continue to spend precious resources on those that are without a home by choice or can support themselves but refuse to. Infrastructure – Our infrastructure continues to be in major need of repair. Also, as our community grows, we will need to consider how we will pay for the infrastructure that will be needed. Infrastructure is the framework that makes our community run. It is vital that we have confidence that the water we drink is safe, our streets are on a systematic schedule that guarantees repair and improvement each year, our stormwater system can handle the increasing adverse impacts of climate change that is causing more intense rain events, and our wastewater system and trash service can handle the waste product that our community produces. This is a big task that cannot be ignored. It can be easy to lose sight of our infrastructure needs when much of it is buried underground. We are making strides by investing more money in our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) infrastructure projects each year. We must continue this path and not lose sight of the needs to ensure our community can properly run.
Bart Littlejohn: Equity (access to medical care, healthy food, and safe space to live), Housing (Accessible, Available, and Affordable), and Economic Development for everyone; no matter where you live or how much you make. Lawrence only works when it works for everyone.
Milton Scott: Affordable housing: I believe there are opportunities for public and private partnerships to create affordable housing utilizing such programs as Section 42 Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), Section 142 Tax Exempt Private Equity Bonds, Section 202 Housing for the elderly, Section 811 Housing for persons with disabilities, the Housing Trust Fund or Multifamily Tax Subsidy Project. Also, at least 15% of HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds are set aside for a specific type of private, nonprofit called Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), which has the capacity to develop affordable housing for the community it serves. The City should encourage such public and private partnerships. In addition, the City should better educate the community on these housing program opportunities. I also think that this is an opportunity for the City to encourage a reassessment of development site plans which encourage more affordable types of family housing, both as rentals and units for purchase, i.e., townhomes, duplexes, etc. City utility rates: In addition, I know firsthand how our expensive housing market and higher-than-average utility rates disproportionately affect low-to-moderate income households. These households already have so little room in their budgets that the rate increases can cause real financial hardship. Therefore, I support a freeze on city utility rate increases. From 2015 to 2021, the typical utility bill, based on the average use of 4000 gallons of water per month, has increased from about $77 per month to about $112 per month. That equates to a 45% increase in city utility rates since 2015, or an average of about 7.5% per year. The City’s water and wastewater fund shows an 8.7% increase in charges for services from the 2021 revised budget to the 2022 revised budget. Charges for storm water show a 2.8% increase, and solid waste an 11% increase. These increases may help the City’s budget but are unsustainable for its residents. Infrastructure: I support the review of and prioritizing all capital improvement projects including neighborhood street improvements. Congress is positioning itself to approve a major infrastructure plan for the country. The city should position itself to have “shovel ready” projects that can be ready to receive federal dollars. Many streets in Lawrence continue to flood including the under path in North Lawrence. This issue needs to be addressed, and it requires a permanent fix.
Amber Sellers: I plan to serve so that people most impacted by our policies are also most engaged in shaping them. We will put the people back in public policy by engaging with the community, listening to people, being inclusive in our deliberations and connecting people to the decision-making process. First, we need to create a collective definition of infrastructure that includes transportation, sustainability, and social services. By taking a holistic approach to addressing these multifaceted issues, we are focusing on making meaningful changes in our community. For example, child care, on the surface, is rarely categorized as infrastructure, but when it comes to attracting new businesses or building an engaged workforce, it is essential to economic stability. Second, we know that safe, stable , mixed-income housing improves the economic and social pathways of both an individual and a community. We must address the gaps in our housing stock at certain price points. Our City Government has a leadership opportunity to develop a citywide, collaborative, and efficient affordable housing plan that grows community health. Lastly, I believe our community will grow best by viewing economic development through a workforce lens, focusing on training, retraining, and repositioning individuals to meet immediate area employment needs. Working with established community partners such as the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center, Workforce Centers, Douglas County CORE, and the Lawrence Chamber are critical to the success of this model.
Q: When and why did you decide to run for Lawrence city commission?
Stuart Boley: I first decided to run in the 2015 election because I believed that city finances were in need of improvement. That has been one of my main concerns as a city commissioner and the city has made significant improvements in accuracy and in transparency. I decided to run for reelection in 2019 with concerns that were more broad, having learned about inadequacies in other areas of city government, such as street maintenance. These are being addressed through the city’s new adopted practices of five year capital improvement planning and strategic planning. This year I decided to run for reelection to provide continuity and experience in the continuing effort to improve the services our city provides.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: In 2016, I was elected to serve as a Lawrence delegate for Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention. It was through this experience that I met and engaged with the Douglas County Democratic Party. They welcomed me and began encouraging me to run for local office. I started volunteering for local campaigns and doing grassroots work to get good people elected. I had the idea of running for public office as a goal for my future. In 2020, I experienced houselessness as a result of defending myself against my abuser and going to jail. I was a single mother seeking resources for victims of domestic violence while the county District Attorney wanted to convict me of two felonies for defending myself against my abuser. Throughout this experience, I witnessed the difficulties and barriers accessing community resources. Although Lawrence does have resources for people in need, there still exists barriers for people trying to access these resources. This experience is what led me to run for city commission. Lawrence needs to review their protocols when people call to ask about any help they can get when they are in need. This is extremely important post-COVID. There are many families and people in Lawrence who could benefit from the community resources available. We need to make these resources more easily accessible. We need to make a real focus on engaging underrepresented communities and ensuring that they are a priority. I am running for Lawrence City Commission because I want to see Lawrence live to up to its reputation of being one of the best cities to live in, including its underrepresented vulnerable communities. When we protect our most vulnerable, we ensure a better community for everyone.
Lisa Larsen: I have been on the commission since Oct 2015. It was a humbling experience to be selected to serve and it has been an honor to work with our community members and city staff as we strive to help Lawrence be a place where all community members can thrive. We have accomplished much since my first year on the commission from budgeting and finance to how we evaluate and repair our streets, our sidewalks, our water and wastewater management, the need to address affordable housing and people without homes, and developing the infrastructure that will attract companies, who pay good wages, to come to Lawrence. I believe we are in a good place to make better decisions as we constantly learn more about the issues, and better collaborate with our community partners to solve problems. The experiences in my professional life and now with 5 ½ years on the city commission has given me the foundation to be part of the solution in making our community more equitable, sustainable, and economically viable. I take great pride in our community but also know that we can improve in many ways. The insight, hope, fears, and concerns that I hear from listening to the many voices in our community makes me want to continue the work that I’ve started.
Bart Littlejohn: I decided to run because I wanted to advocate for the hard working folks who are not being heard. As much good as we’ve done in this town, we still have blindspots and ways to go.
Milton Scott: I have always been interested in running for public office. My educational background, with degrees in Political Science and Communications Studies, and a Master of Science in Education – Higher Education were inspired by this interest. However, my long career in the public sector prohibited him from running for local elected office sooner.
Amber Sellers: I believe that Lawrence community members must be able to see themselves in their elected officials. This past year handed us conditions that are ripe for reimagining leadership, infrastructure, and public health and safety. We saw imbalances in services and widening gaps in access to services during the pandemic. I believe prosperity depends on balance and connection- understanding the needs of the community. I believe my voice can be a catalyst for social change.
Q: What local leadership roles have you held, and how will that experience benefit the people of Lawrence if you’re elected? (For incumbents, this could include positions you’ve held while in office.)
Stuart Boley: My main leadership roles have been Commissioner and Mayor. My experience in those roles, especially through six budgets, will provide continuity and good decision making for issues that have yet to be identified, as well as those which are right in front of us. I’ve worked to adopt the strategic plan which will guide the city over the next several years.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: I am currently the Chair of the City of Lawrence Sustainability Advisory Board. I am also an at-large board member for the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE). I founded and serve as Chair for the Kansas Democratic Party Native American Caucus. I am also a member of the 2021 cohort for the Kansas Leadership Center. I am a coordinator with the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters. I serve on these boards in order to learn leadership skills. I also hope to bring my insight into the discussions to ensure that each conversation is diverse and inclusive. It is through my work with these boards that I have been able to get to know different parts of Lawrence and understand the distinct issues. My community work focuses on environmental protection, underrepresented communities and local politics.
Lisa Larsen: I started an Environmental Consulting firm in 1992 and sold it in 2014. Early in my commission term, I have served on the Board of the Douglas County Master Gardeners as the Treasurer. In 2018, I was elected Vice-Mayor and then Mayor in 2019. Other board, committees, and task forces that I have served on include: The BTBC board, Peaslee Tech board, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Board, Plan 2040 task force, Community Reconciliation Project co-director, LMH Health Community & Health Equity Advocacy Committee, Sister Cities Board, and Library Board.
Bart Littlejohn: I am currently the chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a part of the Douglas County County Health Improvement Plan Steering Committee. Recently I was the president of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association. I think all of those positions have given me a broad perspective on the programs/resources that we have and what we are missing.
Milton Scott: · Treasurer, Lawrence Justice Matters 2020 – 2021 · Chair, Trustees’ Ministry, Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church 2012 – 2019 and 1997 – 2000 · Chair, Ninth Street Missionary Out-reach Center/ Executive Committee 2003 – present · Chair, Douglas County Community Corrections Advisory Board 2012 – 2016, and Co-Chair 1992 -1993 · Member, Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence Board of Directors, 2009 – 2013 · Chair, Lawrence Free State High School Site Council 2005 – 2006 · Member, 7th District Judicial Nominating Commission 2004 – 2007 · President, League of Women Voters Lawrence-Douglas County 2001 -2002; 2000 – 2001 and 1996 – 1997 · Chair, Lawrence Housing Practitioners’ Panel 2002 · Chair, Sunset Hill Elementary School Site Council · Member, League of Women Voters of the United States Diversity Implementation Task Force 1997 · Member, Lawrence’s Project Phoenix Gang Related Task Force 1994 – 1997 · Vice-Chair and Member, Lawrence Housing and Appeals Advisory Board 1988 – 1994 · Member, University of Kansas Commission on the Status of Women 1986. I will be able to serve the community well given my extensive professional experience in affordable housing, and my diverse community involvement.
Amber Sellers: I currently serve as the chair of the Human Relations Commission (HuRC), which is the voice for civil rights in the community. The Commission’s role is to elevate community awareness in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation through education, collaboration and coordination with our other boards/commissions and community agencies. The HRC advocates for citizens while ensuring they are informed of their rights and responsibilities on discrimination and diversity issues.
Q: What do you think you bring to the table that sets you apart from all the other candidates?
Stuart Boley: I can only speak to my experience, as I’ve done. I appreciate that each candidate has a unique perspective and experience and don’t know the others well enough to answer the question as stated.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: What sets me apart from the other candidates is that I have a unique lived experience. My life experience is not typical of a political candidate. I grew up in a predominately Native American community. I experienced firsthand the intergenerational complex trauma and adverse childhood experiences of growing up in poverty. My adolescence was mostly rife with homelessness, violence, abuse and family addiction. I, in turn, used my childhood trauma as a source of knowledge for studying effective policy that can be put in place to advocate for resources to protect others from suffering the same trauma that I did, My childhood struggles is what drove me to pursue an Ivy League education in order to be able to have a voice of empowerment. Coming from a “dirt poor”childhood and homeless adolescence, I bring that experience to every conversation that I engage with. My educational knowledge combined with adverse life experiences gives me the force to do the community organizing work that I do. When a community can confront the issues that are affecting marginalized communities, then they can begin to see where actions need to be made. My passion for getting elected to Lawrence City Commission is to help guide the community to understand underrepresented issues and do the work to eliminate barriers to success. My vision for the city of Lawrence is to be a community of true inclusivity, diversity and pathways for families to thrive and succeed without biased policies as obstacles to overcome.
Lisa Larsen: I have a strong scientific background in the environmental field and government contracting. This gives me an insight as to how our infrastructure is designed and built and how best to conduct environmental cleanups, especially as it relates to the Farmland remediation project that the city took on in 2010. The original money given to the city to address the contamination was not near enough for the work that is needed. This places a burden on all Lawrence taxpayers. This $40 million project will require a significant understanding of remediation processes and how best to efficiently and cost effectively cleanup the contamination associated with past uses on the land. My experience and skills have given me an insight to some of the causes of climate change and the need to make the changes necessary for the future of our community. My 30-year career spanned a period that included working for the State of Kansas and building and eventually selling a thriving business. I also have experience in mediating for the Douglas and Johnson County courts.
Bart Littlejohn: I bring the dual perspective of working in neighborhoods with associations and also being on advisory boards. By being grounded in both spheres, I can use the input from the community to make sure that we’re enacting those ideas into policy that work for the citizens of Lawrence.
Milton Scott: Both my diverse life and professional experience set me apart from other candidates. I have highly varied life experiences, from growing up in public housing in a community of very high poverty to obtaining a Masters degree and becoming a professional administrator and member of the American middle class in my adopted home of Lawrence. I have spent most of my professional career in affordable housing and know those issues both locally and nationally better than most. I have been involved in a variety of local organizations, including as a past president of the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters, chair of Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church – Trustee Ministry, chaired the Site Council at Sunset Hill Elementary School and chaired the Site Council at Free State High School in my ongoing quest to learn more about and give back to my community.
Amber Sellers: I bring community engagement, connection skills and an understanding of regional opportunities that will help us develop a successful and efficient plan. My public health service experiences and policy work give me insight into the impacts of Legislative actions that must be considered when working with city staff to set priorities and address problems and/or needs within the community.
Q: What is one city advisory board, council, committee, etc. that particularly interests you, and why?
Stuart Boley: eXplore Lawrence, which serves as the city’s convention and visitors bureau. It is vital to marketing our unique, unmistakable identity and the staff has worked diligently through the pandemic under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I serve as a board member of eXplore Lawrence.
Ma’Ko’Quah Jones: One of the groups that I am interested in and support are the organized labor unions in Lawrence, KS. Organized labor unions work in solidarity for higher productivity, lower employee turnover, improved workplace conditions, and a better-trained workforce. Labor union jobs are one of the pathways to success for families in Lawrence, KS.
Lisa Larsen: Planning Commission. It is the one commission that determines how we plan and grow our community. They are responsible for ensuring our code is followed and the need to change our code when appropriate. This is important in meeting the goals of sustainability, healthy economic development, and environmental stewardship.
Bart Littlejohn: Actually, I’ve been pretty interested in looking at them all to see what part that they play in the community. I’ve been amazed and humbled by all the hard work that these volunteers and staff have put forth in service of the city/county.
Milton Scott: Community Police Review Board. The Police Department needs to develop better transparency, which will ultimately build community trust. I support the review of policing methods and developing policies that increase community engagement including establishing community partner-based policing solutions, alternative response systems, and improving race relations and communications to remove the disconnection with racial and ethnic groups. In addition, I support efforts to strengthen the role of the Police Review Board and giving it more authority to review complaints and compliments. I also support measures of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 which prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, mandates training on those issues, and requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches.
I have been following the work of the Community Police Review Board. I firmly believe public health and safety are intertwined with social justice. After reviewing the reports from CityGate, the Community Police Review Board, and the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, I see that the Department must identify measurable outcomes and strategies to operationalize equitable policing in practice, policy, and training pedagogy. There must be intent to connect resources with the needs of the people and ensure that social services efficiently support our community. CityGate identified four high-priority dispatch calls: domestic disturbance, domestic battery, car accidents and overdoses that center around social issues. I would like to see the Department address these social issues through collaborative strategies with community agencies to reduce those types of calls. I would also like to see engaged consensus-building with the community to amend our policies on no-knock search warrants as well as a complete ban on chokeholds in any instance. The recommendations from Lexipol should be seen as foundational to the ongoing work ahead for the Department. In the 2020 Ad Hoc Pretrial Justice Task Force report, research showed that a little over half of the people in Kansas jails were solely awaiting trial, unable or unwilling to post the monetary bond mandatory for release. I would call on our local law enforcement department to adopt uniform standards for using notices to appear and citations for nonviolent crimes instead of arrest. Last, I would like to see the police department work with our Director of Equity and Inclusion and the Community Police Review Board (CPRB) to draft a community engagement plan that provides recommendations to update the police department’s internal and external processes for filing complaints.
Just for fun
The Times did not require answers to any of the following questions.
Where did you grow up? Lenexa, Kansas
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite animal: Our dog.
Sun sign: Cancer
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: Playing cards with some friends, gardening, trying to play the Great American songbook on my piano.
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? Embattled Lawrence, Conflict and Community, tells stories of our community featuring people I know, knew or would like to have known. The editors, Dennis Domer and Barbara Watkins, and the authors did wonderful work and the book provides great information for residents and city commissioners.
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? Chinatown. Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson made quite an impression on me when I was a young man.
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? Ain’t Misbehaving. I love trying to play it on the piano.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? My parents enjoyed Merchants and I’d love to be able to take them there again.
Is there anything else you want to share with potential constituents right now that we didn’t ask in this survey? Thank you for your interest in the city and in the election!
Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Oklahoma. When I was younger, my family and I lived in Earlsboro, OK. However, as an adolescent I grew up in Shawnee, OK. I moved away when I was eighteen years old.
Favorite color: My favorite color is red.
Favorite animal: My favorite animal is an Octopus cause, theoretically, they can give eight high fives at once.
Sun sign: I am a Cancer sign, and anything that I have ever read about Cancers is a completely accurate description my personality.
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: My favorite hobbies are: reading political history memoirs, watching historical documentaries, political documentaries, spending time and debating with my “too smart for their own good” kids, playing board games, swimming in high water quality bodies of water, and going to the movies.
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? My favorite book is “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. I read this book at a very difficult time in my life and it resonated with the struggles that I was enduring. However, it gave me hope and restored my faith that I can endure.
“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? My favorite movie of all time is “La Bamba” with Lou Diamond Phillips. I fell in love with him when I was six-years-old and he has been my first love ever since. Fun fact: I tweeted him on my birthday in 2018 and he tweeted back. Highlight of my life!
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? My favorite song is “One Day” by Matisyahu. I read a lot of political history and issues and this song just hits home the reality of violence that people survive. But he sings it in such a beautiful way that it gives hope that if we can all come together then we can achieve a better future.
Do you have another favorite work of art you’d like to share? My favorite work of art is “Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid” by Salvador Dali. It has so many complex themes of gun violence weaved in with the double helix in the “cubes of death” showing that the actions we take affect others. But it all has a connection to God.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? I have always wanted to have dinner and conversation with Chief Justice John Marshall. He was the author of the Marshall Trilogy, a series of Supreme Court cases decided in the early 1800’s that outlined the U.S. Federal Government’s relationship with tribes. We are “wards of the government” as a result of his writings. I would love for him to see, today, the effects of his writings and ask him if the quasi-sovereign relationship that tribal nations have with the Federal Government is what he envisioned. We would talk, at length, about this over a dinner of “Indian Tacos”, a colonial food that was the product of the rations that tribes received from the Federal Government after traditional food sources were decimated.
Is there anything else you want to share with potential constituents right now that we didn’t ask in this survey? I am a huge proponent of climate change policies that will help build resiliency for the City of Lawrence. We need sustainable practices on behalf of the community in order to address the drastically changing environment. Climate change is not just an environmental issue.It affects human health, mental health, crime rates, economic development, etc. I really want to see Lawrence become a leader in climate resiliency for the state of Kansas.
Where did you grow up? My father was in the Navy so we moved around a lot until he retired when I was about 11. We finally settled in Larned, Kansas which is my mother’s home town.
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite animal: My dog, no I mean my cat, actually I mean my dog, maybe. This is a tough question. Too tough to answer without having problems at home.
Sun sign: Virgo
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: Swimming, gardening (don’t look at my yard – it’s in a constant state of reconstruction).
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. This is very personal story that hit close to home.
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? Too tough to call.
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? Too tough to call
Do you have another favorite work of art you’d like to share? I’m a big fan of fossil art. This is fossils that has been found in the earth and extracted and made into art pieces that include the substrate they were extracted with.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? My dad died in Sept 2017 during my last campaign. I would love the opportunity to take him to dinner at Jason’s Deli, and talk about much of nothing. He loved that place.
Where did you grow up? Overland Park, KS
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite animal: Wolves/dogs
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: I love to read, travel, work outside in the garden, and build things.
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? I don’t know if I have a favorite. I like reading about science, history, and science fiction.
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? I love movies and don’t have a favorite but a fun one I’ve been meaning to see lately is Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? Love music as well, in all its forms. In quieter times I like to listen to John Coltrane’s Central Park West.
Do you have another favorite work of art you’d like to share? Not necessarily, but I do tend to annoy the others that I’m with because of how long I like to explore museums/art galleries.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? Lao Tzu/Laozi. I’m fascinated by the way his mind worked and his expansive view of the world. Wherever he’d like to go, my treat.
Where did you grow up? East St. Louis, Ill.
Favorite color: Royal Blue
Favorite animal: (My) Dog
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: Prior to COVID: Going to the movies and gathering with friends for dinner.
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? Promises kept, people with character flaws were changed in order to lead others to the promise land, women elevated to prominent roles, caring for thy neighbor and a love so great that He gave his only begotten son to save a wretch like me are some of the reasons why the Bible is my favorite book.
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It brings individuals together who have a different prospective on life. It provides them an opportunity to share and learn from each other. In the end, it celebrates the acceptance of individual uniqueness.
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. It was relevant then and even more so today.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? Sojourner Truth. I would like to here her views about where we are today in race relations. It has been reported that she loved chocolate.
Is there anything else you want to share with potential constituents right now that we didn’t ask in this survey? The 3 C’s of Collaboration, Cooperation and Compassion are the principle of good government that will help guide me as City Commissioner.
Where did you grow up? Wichita, KS
Favorite color: curry yellow
Favorite animal: Not my “favorite,” but I would love to see a blue whale up close.
Sun sign: As a Capricorn, you couldn’t ask for a better sun sign for a City Commissioner- ambitious, persistent, goal-oriented, and practical.
Favorite hobbies/pastimes: I enjoy gardening, cooking, bowling, doing volunteer work with my church and working out.
What’s one of your favorite books, and why? I’m currently reading “Begin Again” by Eddie Glaude Jr.
What’s one of your favorite movies, and why? Man of Fire with Denzel Washington- there’s action and Denzel, no other explanation needed.
What’s one of your favorite songs, and why? Chaka Khan, “I Know You, I Live You.” I listen to this song whenever I need a burst of energy to push through a project or assignment- dancing is guaranteed.
Name any person living or dead who you would like to take out to dinner. Why, and where would you take them to eat? I’m going to cheat because a dinner party is more my style. So, I would take Maya Angelou and Stevie Wonder out for ice cream- no restrictions. Each are/were revered for their gift of prophetic word and music as well as for being unapologetic social activists- to spend an evening in their presence would render me speechless.
Is there anything else you want to share with potential constituents right now that we didn’t ask in this survey? Not at the current time- look forward to sharing more in future opportunities.