Mission, along with Westwood, Prairie Village, looking to shorten terms to comply with new law

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Mission will likely follow the model that Westwood and Prairie Village have considered to shorten city council terms in order to comply with a new state election law.

Mission City Administrator Laura Smith told the council Wednesday that it has now heard that the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office will allow April elections to go forward in 2016. The Johnson County Election Office already had planned for April 2016 elections.

The new law requires cities to hold municipal elections in November of odd years. Municipal elections had been held in April but with cities differing on the odd or even year cycle. Mission councilors readily agreed that they liked the shortened terms as opposed to extending terms to line up with the new law.

Under the proposal, council terms expiring in 2016 will end on the normal schedule and an election will be held in April. Those elected in April 2016 will serve until January 2020. An election in November 2019 will elect their successors and then be on a four-year cycle.

Those with terms expiring in April 2018 will have their terms shortened to January of 2018. The election for their successors will take place in November 2017 and then be on a four-year cycle.

None of the cities has passed an ordinance to effect the change, but are expected to do so rather quickly to allow time for filing for 2016 elections.

The new state law has been heavily criticized both for imposing requirements on local elections and for lack of clarity.