Lawrence Professional Firefighters: Incumbent city commissioners are good for emergency services (Column)

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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There are plenty of jobs out there that don’t get as much credit for their work as they rightfully should, but there aren’t many truly thankless jobs quite like being a city commissioner. It’s almost an impossible task to try to create and approve a budget that keeps a beautiful eclectic city like Lawrence running effectively without becoming a burden to the taxpayer. 

Prioritization is important when thinking about what we may want our city commissioners to pursue, and understanding the current candidates priorities is vital to making the right choice on the ballot in November. 

It is understandable that everybody has different priorities, but we can assume that public safety is high on almost everybody’s list. This is why your Lawrence Professional Firefighters have confidence in the three incumbent candidates and endorsed Brad Finkeldei, Courtney Shipley and Amber Sellers.

From 2006 to 2022, the number of firefighters and paramedics in Lawrence did not grow. Emergency call volume, however, increased by roughly 75% from 2006 to 2022, and the expanding boundaries of Lawrence continued to slow down response times throughout the community, causing service levels to steadily decrease for many years. Previous commissioners seemed apathetic to these facts and instead put maintaining Fire & Medical infrastructure in Lawrence on the proverbial back burner. 

Under the leadership of these three incumbents, things are changing. When the facts were put in front of the commission in 2023, they directed city management to correct the current trajectory and fund the safety of the community appropriately. 

This is why we can be confident that candidates Finkeldei, Shipley and Sellers each have proper understanding of how to fund our community’s safety. All three candidates have a rock solid voting record, which can most recently be observed in the 2024 budget and CIP. Not only is the budget structurally sound, but it puts in place a plan to build more neighborhood fire and ambulance stations and increase the number of emergency responders on duty daily to respond to your needs. 

This commission could have easily done the same thing as their predecessors and just kicked the can further down the road, but instead they recognized the needs of the community and made a tough, but forward-thinking, decision. It was these commissioners who chose to proactively invest in the safety of Lawrence instead of waiting for a tragic event that could have cost the lives of our citizens.

Incumbents Finkeldei, Shipley and Sellers have each had to make tough decisions during their tenures as commissioners. The role of an elected official is not easy, but it is evident in their work that a vote to re-elect these three community members is a vote for a safer community.

— IAFF Local 1596 Executive Board

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