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!