Mayor James Favors Stronger-Mayor-Council Governance

Oct 14, 2013

Clarification: Originally reported that the Mayor favored the current mayor-council form of government, he  suggested  adding powers to the elected post.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James told members of his hand-picked Charter Review Commission he hopes they keep a type of mayor-council-manager form of local government but strengthen powers of a mayor.

Sly James as he appeared in his first meeting with  City Charter Reviewers in July 2013.
Sly James as he appeared in his first meeting with City Charter Reviewers in July 2013.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The Mayor also said he would listen to suggested change.

James knows some on the panel and in the community saw the city slide to a halt under his predecessor, Mark Funkhouser.  James described Funkhouser as lacking “skill sets to do the job.”

Yet James, in his first appearance before the Review Commission since July, said a dysfunctional mayor is a very rare occurrence and does not happen often enough to change the form of government as a remedy. 

He has other reasons to recommend a stronger-mayor government form.

A new strong-mayor government would allow a mayor to fire a city manager as a matter of efficiency. James said he works well with the current city manager.

The Mayor also told the commission the current form of  combining a mayor with a council works, even when some of the personality gears don’t mesh.

James suggested keeping the current number of  Council  districts and Council-members.

"In short, we are working together," said James. "And I fear perhaps, that changing the structure we have might change that mental approach and slow us down to where we are  getting into hand to hand combat.”

There is no ironclad timetable for the Charter Review Commission to write its report.