No One is Running for Mayor in Lawson

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Lawson, Mo. -- What if your city had an election and nobody ran for office? On Tuesday, people in Lawson head to their polling places but they'll see some blank spaces on the ballot.

No one is running for mayor, or for an open alderman spot. Mid-January was the deadline if you wanted to file the paperwork to run for office, and nobody did. As of a week before the election, no one had even launched a write-in campaign.

The fact that the mayor's job only pays $300 a year might make it a tough sell. But Lawson is also still trying to recover from a 2007 embezzlement scandal and then an audit that revealed the city was a half a million dollars in the hole. Bryan Richison has been city administrator about two years and says that while things are getting better, money is still tight.

"It's an older city so there's a lot of aging infrastructure, so the board is faced with a lot of tough choices," Richison says. "We can't fix everything that needs to be fixed at once."

And that means telling a lot of people "no."

"You get people who come up to you and say 'I read in the paper you're not fixing my street because you're doing something else' or 'why isn't my pothole on the list?'" Richison says.

In the more than 150 year history of Lawson no one can ever remember this being a problem in the past. But folks in town we talked to said that the past turmoil still hangs over the town, and continues to cause some bad feelings toward city hall.

"I wouldn't want to be mayor," says resident Betty Smith, "Why would anybody want to go through all that?"

"It's a thankless job," says resident Jim Willis. "The city has been in turmoil in the past. They have people in there now doing a good job, but it will take more to get it growing."

Just six days before the election, Lawson's retired chief of police Norm Hemmerling said he would take the job as mayor if people write in his name. But there's no campaign, no signs or bumper stickers.

And that vacant alderman job might have a candidate now, since the Lawson newspaper reports Nancy Stewart, a former parks board member, will accept the job if people write in her name. Richison says yes, it's not an easy job, but it's important.

"A lot of people think oh someone else will do it, someone else will step up so I don't need to worry about it," Richison says."And in this case nobody else did."

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