The Charter Review Task Force that Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders appointed to focus on three issues -- term limits, campaign finance and candidate filing procedures -- submitted its final report to County Legislators during their regular weekly meeting Monday, August 6. After conducting two public hearings and four other meetings, the Task Force decided to make no recommendations that would require changing the County Charter.
The panel did recommend developing and then publicizing a plan for providing "fair and orderly access to the Courthouse" to candidates filing for elected office. Sanders stated he and Sheriff Mike Sharp would work together to create the plan.
"Each of the committee members expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve," said Task Force Chair Dianne Cleaver. "Although there aren't a lot of major recommendations coming out of this, the committee did really review a lot of material -- pro and con -- and did our best to get public input. We took our task very seriously."
• The Task Force voted not to recommend imposing term limits on any of the County's elected officials: the County Executive, County Legislators, Sheriff and Prosecutor.
• The issue of limiting campaign contributions was not addressed by the Task Force. The County Counselor's Office determined that campaign finance was a matter of state, not local, law.
• The Task Force decided against changing the procedure that determines how candidate names are placed on a ballot. Names are listed in the order in which the candidates file for office with in the County Clerk's Office. Instead, the Task Force made its recommendations regarding fair access to the County Courthouse in Kansas City on the day candidate filing opens.
"These are obviously controversial issues when you're dealing with term limits and campaign finance limits," said Sanders. "These are difficult issues for anyone to wrestle with."
Sanders thanked the Task Force members for their service, noting that they "put a lot of hours and a lot thought into the process."
In addition to Cleaver, the other Task Force members included:
• Dana M. Altieri • Buford L. Farrington • Gayle M. Holliday • James T. Nunnelly • Paul G. Rojas • Dr. Robert E. Hertzog • Becky Nace
Sanders appointed this panel to follow up on the work of the 2010 Charter Review Task Force, which took a look at the entire County Charter. Voters on August 3, 2010, approved the revised Charter, which included several updates focusing primarily on ethics reform. The Charter calls for a formal review every 10 years, but Sanders formed the 2012 Charter Review Task Force to concentrate specifically on three key issues that the 2010 group could not fully address.