Douglas County native hired as Baldwin City administrator
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.”