Lawrence mayoral candidates discuss issues


The two candidates for City of Lawrence mayor faced each other and a variety of questions during a candidate forum Sept. 25 at the Lawrence Central High School auditorium.

Republican David Hofmann and Democrat Deb Whitfield took turns answering questions posed by moderator Eric Halvorson in front of a live audience gathered for the one-hour discussion.

Throughout the forum, Hofmann referred to his experience as a law enforcement officer, chief of police of the Lawrence Police Department and, most recently, deputy mayor for the City of Lawrence. He noted that he took a leave of absence from his deputy mayor duties in July to focus on the mayoral campaign.

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From left, Republican candidate David Hofmann, moderator Eric Halvorson and Democratic candidate Deb Whitfield talk during a Lawrence mayor forum Sept. 25 at Lawrence Central High School auditorium. (Photo by Ben Weir)

Whitfield, who is a Lawrence Common Council at-large member, is the diversity director with Community Health. She said she would resign from her job if elected mayor and devote herself full-time to the office. Whitfield said she would be the top salesperson for the City of Lawrence.

Public safety and diversity were recurring themes throughout the discussion. The candidates agreed that Lawrence is a safe community with less crime than some neighboring areas.

Whitfield said she advocates for better gun control, eliminating permit-less carry and building trust between residents and police officers. Hofmann said that among criminals, Lawrence is known as a place to avoid.

“Even bad guys know that your chances of committing a crime and getting away with it is much less (in Lawrence),” he said. “Our crime trends for the past eight years have been trickling downwards.”

Regarding diversity, Whitfield said the city can do better by making all its departments better reflect the diversity of the community they serve.

“As we move the dial, it’s time to look at the inclusivity of our city, the equitable opportunities of our city,” she said.

Hofmann said that there’s still work to do, but pointed to what the city has achieved so far. He said various departments have been recruiting more diverse staff, and the city has regular celebrations of different cultures.

This story will be updated with additional information. To view a video of the entire discussion, visit the Current in Geist Facebook page.