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
Candidates must complete the filing forms with the City Clerk at City Hall, 515 Kansas Avenue:
- Declaration of Intention – This form must be signed in the presence of the City Clerk and filed during regular business hours. The city will forward a copy of the form to the Atchison County Election Commissioner and the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
- Statement of Substantial Interests for Local Office – Each candidate must complete, sign and file this form when filing the Declaration of Intention, or they may complete and return it to the City Clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the filing deadline. This form remains in the city’s files.
Under Kansas law, the city collects a non-refundable $50 filing fee and $35 report fee in two separate checks:
- $50 – payable to the election commissioner.
- $35 – payable to the city and then forwarded to the state treasurer’s office.
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 City Clerk’s Office by the filing deadline. City candidates filing by petition must still pay the $35 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 to commissioners’ mailboxes by 5 p.m. the Thursday before 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.