Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Douglas County native hired as Baldwin City administrator

August 2, 2011, 10:48 a.m.

Updated: August 4, 2011, 3:22 a.m.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Chris Lowe.

A native of Pleasant Grove, Lowe’s mother worked in Baldwin City for about 25 or 30 years and Lowe used to come to town every year for the Maple Leaf Festival. So when Lowe, 39, saw a position open up in Baldwin, he jumped all over it and beat out 51 other applicants to be named the new city administrator of Baldwin City.

“I’m just tremendously excited. It’s just a humbling experience because you just know what a great community it is so there’s just a lot of excitement about making sure that it moves forward and in the right direction,” Lowe said. “I wouldn’t want to be any place else.”

Lowe was offered the job Friday and the Baldwin City Council voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting authorizing the mayor to enter into the agreement with Lowe. A starting date is still being negotiated, but Lowe should begin sometime around the first or second week in September.

“I really like the fact that he’s got a local tie to this community and he really likes that too,” Baldwin City Mayor Ken Wagner said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had somebody here with a local tie, so I think that can pay a big dividend to Baldwin City as we grow and develop the community and move the community forward.”

Lowe has never worked as a city administrator, but has been the assistant city administrator for Warrensburg, Mo., and most recently Pleasant Hill, Mo. Lowe got his bachelor’s degree from Kansas University, and also received a J.D. from Marquette University Law School and a master’s degree in public administration from Bowie State University.

Wagner said out of all 52 resumes he read, Lowe’s was the one that initially jumped out at him, and he believed Lowe would be a top contender.

“He’s a very young guy, I mean, which I think has got a lot of advantages,” Wagner said. “He’s got a high degree of enthusiasm and energy. He’s a very energetic type of guy and comes highly recommended from the people we talked to.”

Coming with Lowe to Baldwin City is his wife, Dara, who is a family physician in the military and hopes to practice medicine in the area, and three young boys, Cameron, 7, Jake, 4, and Bryce, 3. Wagner said he hopes to have a date selected at the end of August to host a public open house where Lowe can be introduced to the community before he starts his position.

“One of the things you look for in these deals is the personality and who will fit in the community,” Wagner said. “And I really think this community will embrace him and I think he and his family will embrace the community as well.”

The city council was also working on the new budget, which was also approved at Monday’s meeting, at the same time as finalizing the search for a new city administrator, making a busy time of year for the council even busier. Baldwin City Council member Jason Mock was glad to get both Lowe receive the job and the budget get taken care of.

“It was kind of an exhausting time period because we were going through budget and the hiring process all at the same time and so what already is a busy time of year got doubled,” Mock said. “And so we got our budget approved tonight and we got our contract approved tonight and so it’s kind of a sigh of relief and, you know, kind of almost takes a lot of stress off.”

Lowe said the aspect of city management he enjoys most is getting out and talking to elected officials and community members. He also said the only way to effectively do this job is to listen to people and try to give them what they want.

“I always think it’s important when moving to a new community, even if it’s one that you’re familiar with, to listen to what the vision of the elected officials is because they’re the ones who are in touch with the constituents and know what people want to see in their community,” Lowe said.

While Lowe won’t be starting the position for another month, he said he’s excited about being in Baldwin City and his family is “definitely looking forward to coming for the long haul.”

“There’s great sense of pride in that community,” Lowe said. “You can tell by the way people keep their homes and how clean the streets are and it’s just a really nice community. It really is a community and you can tell that folks are really invested in one another.”

Comments

hyperinflate 2 years, 8 months ago

Let's hope his first order of business is to get rid of that wickedly incompetent codes enforcement lady at the city.

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Stacy Napier 2 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't say Tina is incompetent. Heavy handed yes, and that is what we need to keep from being like Eudora. If you are talking about her assistant. I don't know about her.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 8 months ago

No, I'm gonna stick with staggeringly incompetent. People that study the Peter Principle for a living will spit up their milk when told of her story.

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1776attorney 2 years, 8 months ago

I don’t know about incompetent, but I do know about purposely unwilling to perform code enforcement duties.

You have a long term problem with a residence within sight of downtown visitors and residents that has been a trash dump, rodent habitat and eyesore for years. There are truckloads of junk, multiple rusting motor homes, an non-seaworthy boat on trailer, 3 or 4 old cars, a motorcycle, overgrown weeds and a falling fence in the yard.

I know of no less than 5 citizens, neighbors, property owners, downtown businesses and city officials who have complained numerous times over 10 years about this home. Every member of the last city council was well aware of the problem.

On one occasion when the situation was presented to the city code enforcement official, she was belligerent, testy and confrontational. Instead of dealing with the issue, she presented every excuse for leniency and non-enforcement against the homeowner (the city code violator; the law breaker). She didn’t want to do anything and instead proceeded to make it an issue of excessive complaining. The complainers were the problem.

Granted the Baldwin City code is very vague and lacking in specifics. However, the mayor directed the city code enforcer last year to present new city code recommendations that the city council could pass and enforce. From all indications, we are still waiting for this to happen.

At one of the last formal complaint meetings, former city manager, Jeff Dingham, finally admitted that the lack of enforcement was due to the code violator’s ethnicity. In other words, if you’re white, middle class and hardworking you must obey the city codes or pay the consequences. But if you’re Hispanic, live in a dump, embarrass the city and break the law, you’re granted a city employee designated exemption.

Hopefully, the new city administrator will address this issue.

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Stacy Napier 2 years, 8 months ago

Now that I could agree with. The code is a very lacking. A simple ordinance like Lawrence has of no vehicles on lawns or unregistered would help a lot.

And it would not surprise me that Dingbat said that. Hopefully we will become a bit more progressive with the new leadership.

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