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Running for Office
Duties and Responsibilities
Stepping into a leadership role on the City Commission is a serious, but worthwhile endeavor. If you are considering running for office, the information contained on this page will provide you with valuable insight to help you make your decision. 

The City of Abilene has two different terms for the City Commission; the two candidates receiving the most votes in the General Election receive four-year terms, and the candidate receiving the third most votes receives a two-year term. This is the only major difference between members of the City Commission. Every member of the City Commission is considered an equal with the other members. Even the Mayor is on equal terms as the other members.

City Commissioners are considered the democratic "voice of the people" and exercise the public's will by concentrating on issues that are responsive to the needs of the community. The City Commission accomplishes this by:

  • enacting ordinances (law) and resolutions (policy or policy guidance);
  • appointing a City Manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City;
  • appointing individuals to serve of advisory boards and commissions;
  • reviewing and approving the annual budget, setting the tax rate, and approving the financing of municipal operations;
  • establishing municipal fees and utility rates;
  • authorizing and approving contracts on behalf of the City; and
  • monitoring the municipal programs and services to ensure they are meeting the public's expectations.

In April, the City Commission selects one of its members to serve as Mayor. The Mayor presides over all meetings of the City Commission, serves as a spokesperson for the community, facilitates communication and understanding among fellow elected officials, and acts as a community ambassador. A Vice-Mayor is also selected to serve as Mayor when the Mayor is unable to fulfill the duties of the position.

Qualifications for Office
Persons interested in serving as a City Commissioner must meet the following basic qualifications:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States of America;
  • Must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter of Abilene; and
  • Must be an Abilene resident and reside within the corporate limits at the time of filing, and if elected, for the duration of the term.

The League of Kansas Municipalities has produce the 2015 Guide for City Candidates, which provides valuable information for persons interested in running for office in 2015.

The City Manager would also be willing to meet with anyone interested in running for the City Commission to provide an overview of municipal operations and answer any questions the person may have about the position. Please feel free to call (785) 263-2550 or email to schedule an appointment to meet with the City Manager to learn more about serving as a City Commissioner.

Filing for Office
There are a few steps to follow once a person makes the decision to run for office. Candidates must complete the following filing forms with the City Clerk:
(full packet link)

  • Declaration of Intention:  This form must be signed in the presence of the City Clerk and filed during regular business hours. The City will forward a copy of the form to the Dickinson County Election Officer and the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

  • Statement of Substantial Interests for Local Office:  Each candidate must complete, sign and file this form when filing the Declaration of Intention, or they may complete it and return it to the City Clerk no later than ten days after the filing deadline. This form will remain in the City's files.

The City collects a non-refundable fee of $10 payable to the Dickinson County Election Officer.

Candidates may also file by petition, provided the petition is signed by fifty qualified electors of by a number of such qualified electors equal to not less than 1% of the ballots cast in the last municipal General Election, whichever is less. Filing by petition do not have to pay the fee to the Dickinson County Election Officer, but the petition must be valid and filed prior to the deadline. 

The deadline to file for all City elections is 12:00 pm on the Tuesday that is ten weeks prior to the first Tuesday in April. The deadline for the 2015 election is January 27, 2015. The General Election is held the first Tuesday in April in odd-numbered years, which will be April 7th this year. City elections in Kansas are non-partisan.

Once Elected
Once elected, the candidate takes the Oath of Office at the first meeting following the City's receipt of the certified results of the election from Dickinson County. This is usually the second regular meeting in April in the election year. Newly elected City Commissioners then begin their duties as a City official.

  • Regular Meetings:  The City Commission convenes two regular meetings each month. Regular meetings are held at 4:00 pm on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at are held at the Abilene Public Library. Regular meetings typically last about thirty to sixty minutes. Agenda packets are distributed to the City Commission and the public by 5:00 pm on the Tuesday prior to the meeting. Agendas are also available on the City's website.

  • Other Meetings:  Members of the City Commission also serve as ex officio members of the various appointed boards and commissions of the City. These meetings are generally held once a month and last about an hour. Additionally, the City Commission may require an occasional Special Meeting to address a timely or procedural issue. Proper advance notice is provided to the City Commission and the public should a Special Meeting be necessary.

  • Study Sessions:  The City Commission conducts study sessions on Tuesdays the week prior to a regular meeting. Study sessions begin at 7:00 pm and are held at the Abilene Public Library. They typically last about two hours. Study sessions are informal meetings where no official action may be taken; discussion is for informational purposes only. These meetings allow the City Manager and staff to brief the City Commission on policy proposals prior to formally taking action. The City Commission uses study sessions during the development of the budget, the discuss goals and priorities, and discuss policy proposals prepared by staff. 

  • Compensation:  The Mayor is compensated a taxable wage of $250 per month and City Commissioners are compensated a taxable wage of $200 per month. Travel expenses are reimbursed according to City policy and budget constraints.

  • Travel:  The City Commission occasionally travels to events and training provided by the League of Kansas Municipalities or other events of special interest to the community. As ambassadors of the City, the City Commission is encouraged - although not required - to attend.

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With Abilene
City of Abilene
P.O. Box 519
Abilene, Kansas 67410
Phone: 785-263-2550
Fax: 785-263-2532
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