My name is Leslie Soden, and I am running for City Commission. I have lived in Lawrence for 15 years, and I truly love this city. For the last 8 years I have owned and operated a pet sitting business called Pet Minders, a business I built from scratch. Prior to that, I worked for 7 years as an IT/computer professional. Community involvement has been especially important to me. As a graduate of Leadership Lawrence, an appointed member of the Joint Economic Development Council, and through active involvement in my neighborhood, I bring a unique combination of experience to city hall. The following issues are important to me:
- Public Safety: It is clear to me that the police facilities do need to be upgraded and that deferred maintenance needs must be addressed. Citizen discussion groups in collaboration with county and university law enforcement, as well as public service agencies could prioritize our community’s public safety needs and explore improved ways to prevent crime.
- Budget Priorities: Our budget priorities need realigning. Building a regional recreation center before a new police facility is the clearest example. I am very concerned about our current economic path of giving tax breaks to developers on one hand, and raising property taxes, sales taxes and water rates on the other hand. Making sound financial decisions, acting as a guardian for taxpayer money and prioritizing our community’s needs has been lacking in the last 4 years.
- Economic Development: Recent studies have shown that our city is one of Kansas’s most expensive communities to live in, and yet we have one of the poorest average wages. I am fully committed to securing permanent, full-time jobs that provide a living wage and benefits. I support the Chamber’s new economic development plan, which focuses on the expansion of businesses already located here in Lawrence and Douglas County.
- Affordable Housing: I currently serve as co-chair of the Lawrence Affordable Housing Coalition, which has been working to add a Safe & Affordable Housing chapter to the revisions of the Horizon 2020 community plan. Such housing is essential to a growing workforce and will address the needs of all of our citizens.
- Cultural Amenities: Our core historic neighborhoods and Downtown Lawrence are the twin jewels of our city’s cultural heritage and need to be maintained and protected. However we need to be sure that future long-term planning includes a distribution of cultural opportunities throughout the city.
I am eager to get to work on these issues on behalf of Lawrence citizens, and look forward to hearing your thoughts. I appreciate your vote of support for me in the upcoming election. Please vote for me in the general election on Tuesday April 7th!!