By Diane Silver
[revised some and updated 10:13 pm]
Low turnout on the east side may well have combined with the power of real estate money today to knock the number of progressive votes on the Lawrence City Commission from three to one.
The City Commission has five members.
Progressive incumbent Dennis "Boog" Highberger retained his seat on the commission, but incumbent David Schauner lost and newcomer Carey Maynard-Moody was unable to win the seat once held by retiring progressive Mike Rundle.
The candidates backed by developers -- Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut -- came in No. 1 and 2 in the vote with Highberger coming in 3rd. Three seats were open.
Neither Dever nor Chestnut have said how they will vote on the domestic partner registry, although Dever may well be leaning towards a no vote based on a recent comment. Highberger, Schauner and Maynard-Moody had all pledged to vote yes on the domestic partner registry. The final candidate -- Baptist minister James Bush -- had also pledged to vote yes, but he failed to make the cut to win a commission seat.
All of this means that the future of the domestic partner registry is in doubt. It's too early to say what will happen with this issue, though. We lost two certain votes, but we may not have lost the issue. We have to start working with the new commissioners and with incumbents Mike Amyx and Sue Hack.
What happened in the election? A first look indicates that we just didn't get our voters out. We didn't raise enough money for our candidates. Lawrence progressives were hobbled this time by the demise of a coalition that had helped elect Highberger, Schauner and Rundle. This time the developers were clearly more motivated to retake the commission they had once controlled.
Lawrence progressives were a tad disorganized. New groups like Kansas Equality PAC, a group I'm affiliated with, and Grassroots Action (Think I've got the name right on that) were not as experienced and, perhaps, didn't do all they could. All of us could have done better. Next time we will.
The shift on the City Commission means there may be many other changes in Lawrence. In the last few days, for example, I saw a lot of Dever signs in bar windows. Will there be an attempt to repeal the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars in Lawrence? (Personally, I'd hate to see the ban go. I can breathe in restaurants now!) And of course, the developers now have a hold on the Commission. Older neighborhoods may well take a hit, while resources head to the big money folk. Can anyone say tax breaks?
Lawrence School Board, USD 497, results and all the results for Douglas County can be found at the county clerk's site.