Merriam, Roeland Park plan to have city primary elections reduce candidates to 2; new state law allowed 3

MerriamMerriam and Roeland Park both plan to retain a primary system for municipal elections that will cut the field to two candidates for the general election.

A state law passed in 2015 required that cities change their election cycles to move to August and November of odd-numbered years. If cities follow the state law – with no exceptions – then the August primary only reduces the field to three candidates if that many or more are running.

Merriam passed its new election ordinances this week and Roeland Park is poised to pass its new ordinances after discussing them over a couple of meetings. Both cities are opting out of the state’s primary provision and cutting the field to only two candidates for the November election.

Merriam and Roeland Park are among the remaining NEJC cities to make the election law adjustments that start in 2017.

Another similarity between Merriam and Roeland Park is that they will keep special provisions for filling vacancies on the city council. Roeland Park is the only city in Johnson County that holds special elections when a vacancy occurs. Most cities fill the vacancy by appointment. The proposed Roeland Park ordinance calls for special elections if the vacancy occurs far enough in advance of a scheduled election.

In Merriam, candidates for a vacancy have been interviewed by the full council and voted on in open session.