form of goverment
Governor Mark Parkinson signs the proclamation declaring Eudora a City of the Second Class
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
In December 2010, the City of Eudora was elevated by gubernatorial proclamation to a City of the Second Class. This designation was made because the population of Eudora rose above 5,000.
One change of being designated a Second Class City, is the possibility of a new form of government. By state statute, cities of the Second Class are to have a Commission based form of government. Cities of the Third Class, which Eudora was prior to the elevation in designation, have a Mayor/Council form of government.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the City Council took the first step towards changing the form of government.
The Council directed city attorney’s and city staff to begin to draft language for a public ballot initiative, likely to appear on the November General Election ballot, that will eliminate the Mayor as an elected position and move to a Commission based form of government.
The citizens of the city would have to approve this change in the form of government by a simple majority.
To show what the City government would look like if this measure passes, you only need to look to our neighbor to the west, Lawrence. Lawrence has five City Commissioners with the two highest vote getters from the last election being named Mayor and Vice Mayor respectively. The Vice Mayor then is named Mayor the following year. The “Mayor” is a voting member of the Commission, presides over the committee meetings and handles any ceremonial roles in the city as necessary.
While current state statute says that a City Commission is made up of only three Commissioners, a charter ordinance would likely be passed by the Eudora City Council to keep the number of Commissioners at the current level of five.
“I don’t feel right now, as Mayor, I’m doing a service to the City under the form of government we currently have,” Mayor Scott Hopson said.
In 2009, shortly after Hopson became mayor, the decision was made by the City Council in agreement with the mayor, to no longer have the mayor appoint the department supervisors and instead move to a system where they are employees of the city at the direction of the City Administrator.
“I don’t think that today’s government structure that we have, given the population and that I gave away the appointments,” Hopson added, “the day I gave those up, is the day when Eudora outgrew the Mayor’s position.”
All the members of the City Council unanimously expressed interest in pursuing this route of changing the form of government.
“I think we’ve grown up,” Councilwoman Ruth Hughs said.
The next several months will be interesting as the current City Council looks at this issue and determines what course the new form of government will take. As it stands right now, and presuming the change in the form of government is approved, next April citizens will be voting for candidates to fill the two City Council seats up for reelection. Those seats are currently held by Tim Reazin and Bill Whitten. The other three Council members, John Fiore, Ruth Hughs and Kenny Massey, were elected in 2011 and will serve until 2015.
Mayor Scott Hopson could go down in history as the last elected Mayor in the City of Eudora.