The 2013 session of the Kansas Legislature won’t start for a couple more days. But officials for the city of Leavenworth already are voicing opposition to an issue that could come before state lawmakers.
During a meeting this past week, Leavenworth city commissioners formed a consensus in opposition to the idea of moving municipal elections to coincide with state and federal elections.
City Manager Scott Miller said he brought the issue to city commissioners Tuesday after receiving an “alert” from the League of Kansas Municipalities.
Municipal elections currently are held in the spring of odd-numbered years. Local school board elections also are held at this time.
But according to the information Miller received from the LKM, the issue of moving these elections to coincide with elections held in the fall of even-numbered years may be seriously considered during the upcoming legislative session.
Mayor Larry Dedeke suggested such a change might cause confusion about which elections are partisan and non-partisan.
Municipal elections in Kansas are non-partisan. But races for the fall elections in even-numbered years are mostly partisan.
“I think it would overwhelm the electorate,” Dedeke said.
Commissioner Phil Urban said the consolidation of spring and fall elections could lead to huge primaries.
Commissioner Mark Preisinger said independents who normally vote in primaries for municipal elections may not participate if the elections are combined with partisan races. He said there would have to be education regarding the fact that independents could still vote in municipal primaries without having to declare a party.
Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Janas Gasbarre said she thought commissioners previously discussed the idea of moving municipal elections and had not been opposed to it because of the cost savings.
“I could go either way,” she said.
According to the information from the LKM, the last time the idea was considered, the statewide savings was estimated to be $34,000.
Commissioner Davis Moulden was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Because the commissioners reached a consensus, Miller said he would send a letter to local state legislators to let them know of the commissioners’ opposition.