City Council 101

City Council 101: What Would You Say You Do Here?

There is an election coming up on June 18th to pick KCMO’s next mayor and city council. Over a few blog posts, I will try to help voters better acquaint themselves with the voting process, the geography of the districts, and what the mayor and city council members actually do. And please, sign up for more updates from my campaign to win the 4th In-District City Council seat.

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In the midst of my campaigning, a frequent question I receive is, “what does city council even do?” Here I’ll do my best to break it down.

Who are they? Why are they here?

KCMO has what’s referred to as a Manager-Council form of government. So, think of the mayor and city council like a board of directors for a big company and the city manager is the CEO. Taking this simile a step further, the residents — or more precisely, the voters — of the city are like the shareholders of the company — they are who city council and the mayor ultimately answer to.

Just like a business’s board of directors and CEO work together to make sure the company does well by delivering a great product to its customers, the city manager, mayor, and city council work together to keep the residents safe, happy, and healthy.

What does KCMO’s City Council do?

Unlike a big company, the city doesn’t make widgets or computer software, instead its product is the health, safety, and prosperity of its people. The city council and mayor pass laws — ordinances and resolutions — that affect our everyday quality of life. These include things like:

  • Allocating funding to improve parks or maintain sidewalks

  • Adopting long-range plans and policies

  • Approving the construction of new housing and other developments

  • Updating traffic laws and allocating money to enforce them

  • Approving budgets for fire and police

  • Improving public health through safety net services and evidence based strategies

How many of them are there?

There are a total of 12 council members plus the mayor. This means that for every ordinance or issue there are 13 total votes.

I wrote a blog post about this back in February!

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Where do they come from?

There are six council districts of roughly equal population. Each district has two council members. Both must live within their district but one is elected by only the voters who also live within that district while the other -- called at-large --  is elected by the voters in every district. The mayor, ike the at-large council person, is elected by citywide vote.

And I wrote a blog post about this too where you can look up your council district!

When do we elect them?

All members of council plus the mayor are up for reelection every four years, the year before the US Presidential election. There is a primary in April and a general election in June.

So if you are a KCMO resident, please mark your calendar for June 18th! And if you are in the 4th district, please vote for Eric Bunch!


City Council 101: When, Who, Whaa??

There is an election coming up on June 18th to pick KCMO’s next mayor and city council. Over a few blog posts, I will try to help voters better acquaint themselves with the voting process, the geography of the districts, and what the mayor and city council members actually do. And please, sign up for more updates from my campaign to win the 4th In-District City Council seat.

In this installment of City Council 101, I attempt to help answer the most frequently asked questions about the Kansas City Mayor and City Council elections.

Q: What KCMO elected offices are up for election in April 2nd?

A: Voters of Kansas City will vote for Mayor and all 12 city council seats.

Q: Okay, so which ones will I see on my ballot?

A: You will vote for mayor, an in-district city council member, and six at-large city council members.

Q: What’s this at-large and in-district nonsense?

A: It’s not nonsense, but it is a little confusing.

KCMO has six council districts. Each is represented by one in-district council person and one-at large.

KCMO has six council districts. Each is represented by one in-district council person and one-at large.

The city is split into six districts (see my last post for more info on that). Each district is represented by one in-district councilperson and one at-large councilperson. The difference is that an in-district council member is elected by just the voters who live in that district, while the at-large council member is elected by voters from across the entire city.

So let’s say you live in my district, district 4. You will vote on these KCMO offices:

  • Mayor

  • 4th In-District (Vote #Bunch4KC!)

  • 1st At-Large

  • 2nd At-Large

  • 3rd At-Large

  • 4th At-Large

  • 5th At-Large

  • 6th At-Large

Q: You said something about April 2nd being a primary. What’s that all about? How does the general election work?

A: Correct, April 2nd is just the first round for the mayoral and council candidates. Every candidate who collected enough petition signatures to qualify will appear on their respective district ballots. There are no parties so you have don’t have to choose which team to vote for. Some candidates will be running unopposed while other races have many people vying for the seat. The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election on June 18th.

Q: So we vote twice on mayoral and council candidates?

A: Yes. Please, make sure you vote in both elections - April 2nd is the primary. June 18th is the general. Even if your top choices to make it on to the final round, please vote in both. You may need to reacquaint yourself with the candidates, but it’s still a big decision for the future of Kansas City, Missouri.

Q: Will there be anything else on my ballot besides mayor and city council?

A: It is also important to remember that there will be a whole bunch of other stuff on your April 2nd ballot. And because Kansas City spans four counties and more than a dozen school districts, your ballot may not be the same as mine. I will try to cover more of that later.

KCMO City Council 101: What council district am I in?

There is an election coming up on June 18th to pick KCMO’s next mayor and city council. Over a few blog posts, I will try to help voters better acquaint themselves with the voting process, the geography of the districts, and what the mayor and city council members actually do. And please, sign up for more updates from my campaign to win the 4th In-District City Council seat.

In this installment I want to go over a few frequently asked questions about the city council districts of Kansas City, MO.

Q: How many city council districts are there?

A: Six. Each has about the same number of residents about ~80,000. The district boundaries are redrawn every ten years following the federal decennial census.

Q: Is there just one city council person from each district?

A: Nope. There are two. One is elected in-district and the other at-large (citywide). A little more on this later.

Q: Ok, so where are the districts?

A: This is easier to answer with a map. Pan around on the map to look at the boundaries. You can even type in your address to see what district you are in: