Village of Lawrence

As a resident of Lawrence since 1976, and a former 20-year elected official of the village, I am absolutely appalled and disgusted by the actions of the losing slate that ran in the recent village election. I believe the way that they ran their campaign was well beyond the pale, and has not occurred in our village for at least the last 46 years — and this probably never occurred in the long history of the village. Happily, the other slate won by an overwhelming majority. I would advise and urge the losing mayoral candidate to immediately resign from his position as village trustee, as well as offer a public apology to the other candidates.

Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been a new phenomenon of “entry-level” candidates running for village office. Previously, candidates showed their dedication and commitment to the village by working for many years on various village boards and commissions or holding major positions in the Lawrence Association prior to considering running for elective office. They demonstrated why their agenda was for the betterment of the entire community, and not a personal agenda. They knew and understood the community. And, as a result, these individuals were generally superb elected officials. As it turns out, the losing slate’s two trustee candidates and their candidate running for village justice were “entry-level” candidates with little or no village experience.

I believe that the subject of eliminating term limits should be seriously considered by the mayor and board of trustees. Term limits in our village have been around for only about 20 years, and we are the only village in our area to have them. Term limits make no sense. We are a small community with a limited number of capable, community minded individuals. If someone is doing a good job, they should be permitted to continue to serve if they so desire and are reelected. If they are not doing a good job, they will likely not be reelected. It’s a simple formula that will go a long way in helping to keep capable people running the village, and, hopefully, filtering out the “entry-level” candidates that may have a personal agenda.

Dr. Jack Levenbrown was the first member of the Orthodox community to be president of the Lawrence Association (1985-88), the first to serve as a village trustee (1988-2002), and the first to serve Lawrence as mayor (2002-2008).


  1. It is possible to abhor scorched earth campaigns larded with innuendo and personal attacks and at the same time support term limits. With all due respect to Dr. Levenbrown, there are many capable and community-minded residents of the Village, and reasonable term limits can help toward a goal that elective office not become an entrenched self-perpetuating insiders’ club the way it does at many organizations. Moreover, an individual has every right to run for office without having spent years working his or her way to the front of some imaginary line. If a candidate has spent a long time volunteering and serving the Village in one or more ways, it is up to that candidate to translate that into name recognition and voters’ confidence in the candidate’s ability, not for voters to be instructed to hand that candidate an office because it is his or her turn.

  2. B”H

    Just received the latest 5T edition of the Herald, and am eager to review a friend’s assessment of the recent Lawrence Village election.
    Dr. Jack Levenbrown is well known to me —- during his tenure as mayor he pointed out that some of my more enthusiastic volunteers in support of my candidacy for Trustee on the Lawrence School Board were posting flyers on village property.
    Other times, we exchanged greetings and light banter while at Shabbat services in Congregation Beth Sholom. Never did I associate him with holding particularly progressive views (I am one such, even the rare liberal Republican); nor did it occur to me that he would take such welcome approach about campaign ethics. One may properly question how he sees the daily abomination unfolding in D.C., and what Trump has turned into the whites’ house!
    As a college professor in political science, I am amused with his position on term limits for elected officials. My own perspective has changed, to now support such limits for the excitement, energy, creativity, and voter investment in democracy that such a reform brings.
    My friend’s approach is the one commonplace, even superficial, and pedestrian point of view that is obvious: the proper reward for a job well-done is to be re-elected until death, or voluntary retirement separates the official from his acolytes. For rest assured, a cult of personality develops, and an incipient threat of authoritarianism is presented; ironically, exactly as in Trump’s abominable instance!
    The former mayor doesn’t know that the precedent of limits was set by the venerable First President: he could’ve had the Presidency forever, but chose to return to private life after honorable public service, observing the ancient, classic Greek example —- not the careerists who have a stranglehold on policy, a kind of political sclerosis from which counties-states-nation suffer!
    Thus, let us encourage, and applaud willingness to serve for a mutually-accepted run of terms, and then, gracefully exit to be toasted for a job well done. Did somebody utter the scandal-less Obama? Corruption, and abuse of power become more inviting with unlimited limits.
    Shana Tova, veMetuka, a good and sweet New Year 5781.
    With fraternal affection,
    Prof Asher J Matathias
    Woodmere, NY-USA
    Also of the United States of Anxiety
    Acute now more than ever!


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