The City of Atchison is a municipal corporation led by a five-member volunteer City Commission. Commissioners are elected at-large (community-wide, no districts) and elections are held in odd numbered years. Three seats are up for each election. Elections are non-partisan.
Stepping into leadership is a serious but worthwhile responsibility. If you’re considering running for office, it’s a 2-4 year commitment. The two candidates who receive the most votes receive four-year terms; the candidate who receives the third most votes receives a two-year term.
City Commission members are the democratic “voice of the people” and exercise the public’s will by concentrating on issues that are responsive to the needs and the wants of the citizens.
The City Commission accomplishes this by:
- Enacting ordinances (laws)and resolutions (policy or guidance);
- Approving the appointment of the City Manager and members of volunteer advisory boards and committees;
- Reviewing and approving the annual budget, setting the tax rate, and approving the financing of city operations;
- Establishing city fees and city utility rates;
- Authorizing and approving contracts on behalf of the city; and
- Monitoring city programs and services to ensure they are being accomplished in the best possible way.
A Mayor is annually selected by his or her fellow Commissioners to preside over the City Commission meetings, serve as a spokesperson for the community, facilitate communication and understanding among elected officials, and act as a community ambassador. A Vice-Mayor is selected as an alternate to fulfill the duties of the Mayor.
Qualifications to file for office:
- Must be a citizen of the United States.
- Must be 18 or older and a registered voter of Atchison.
- Must be an Atchison resident and reside in corporate city limits at the time of filing, and, if elected, for the duration of the term.
Click here for a great guide for candidates considering public office.
Filing Forms & Fees
Any person desiring to be a candidate for city office must file a declaration of intent to become a candidate with the county election officer on or before 12:00 p.m. on June 1. See K.S.A. 25-2109; K.S.A. 25-2110. In addition to the declaration of intent to become a candidate, each candidate must also deliver to the county election officer either a filing fee of $20 or a nomination petition signed by the number of qualified electors as established by city ordinance. See K.S.A. 25-2110; K.S.A. 25-21a(01). No candidate is permitted to withdraw his or her candidacy after the filing deadline. See K.S.A. 25-2106..
Candidates also may file by petition, if the petition is signed by 100 qualified electors or by a number of such qualified electors equal to not less than 1 percent of the ballots cast in the ward at the last general city election, whichever is less.
- Filing by Petition – Any candidate may file by petition in lieu of a filing fee. All listed directions must be followed to ensure your petition is valid. After the form is completed and properly signed it must be filed in the County Clerk’s Office by the filing deadline. City candidates filing by petition must still pay the report fee.
If Elected …
Regular Meetings: Governing Body members generally attend two City Commission meetings per month. Meetings are held in the early evening, starting at 4:30 p.m. and usually last about 60-90 minutes. Agenda packets are distributed electronically by the end of the week prior to the meeting. Agendas are also available online.
Other Meetings: Council members also serve by appointment on various boards and committees that generally meet once a month. On occasion, it is necessary for the City Commission to hold a special meeting to address a timely or procedural issue. Proper advance notice and an agenda are given to Commissioners, the media, and the public, should this occur.
Workshops: On occasion, it is necessary for the City Commission to hold workshops to allow the governing body and city staff to work collaboratively on an issue. By law, a workshop is an informal meeting where by law no official action can be taken or decisions made, but they’re still a very useful and important tool of governance.
Normally, the City uses workshops during the development of the budget to discuss goals and priorities and get governing body feedback on revenue projections, department budgets, and strategic planning such as capital improvements and equipment reserve.
Compensation: The Governing Body does receive a taxable compensation of $75.00/year. Travel expenses are reimbursed according to city policy and within budget constraints.
Travel: The City offers a professional development and networking opportunity to attend the annual League of Kansas Municipalities conference. As ambassadors of the city, governing body members are encouraged, although not required, to attend. In the past, the City also periodically nominated governing body ambassadors to attend the National League of Cities conference, although this opportunity has been curtailed in recent budget years.
On occasion, evening travel may be necessary to attend a regional meeting such as City appointments to the Mo-Kan Regional Planning Commission or the annual League Regional Supper to network and learn about upcoming state and federal legislative issues.