One way to get involved with local government is to serve on a board or commission. In Kansas City, there are hundreds of opportunities. (Photo illustration/ The Beacon)

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Passionate about historic preservation? There’s a commission for that. How about parking policy? There’s a board for that, too. Whatever issue is on your mind, it might also be the focus of a board or commission in Kansas City, Missouri, part of the larger city government that makes decisions affecting just about every aspect of our lives. 

With hundreds of board positions comes the need for hundreds of appointees — and one of them could be you. Those interested can get onto a Kansas City, Missouri, board or commission via several routes.

How are board and commission members chosen?

Why should I apply for a board position in KCMO?

Where can I apply to a Kansas City board or commission?

Who handles applications for Kansas City boards and commissions?

How long does the process of filling a Kansas City board or commission position take?

What am I agreeing to by taking a Kansas City board position?

How are board and commission members chosen?

The mayor may invite a community member to accept an appointment based on that person’s expertise in specific areas or as a result of past civic engagement, such as regularly participating in public meetings. 

Some boards and commissions have specific qualifications for members — spots may be designated for council members or specific department staff. Other boards are a mix of mayoral picks and appointees from other entities. The Land Bank Board of Commissioners, for example, has members appointed by the mayor, Kansas City Public Schools and Jackson County.

Residents can also apply to a board or commission. Their experience will be evaluated, and if they’re deemed to be a good fit, they’ll be offered a position. 

Why should I apply for a board position in KCMO?

Serving on a board or commission can help ensure diverse voices are heard on various issues. 

The city has committed to increasing diversity on its boards and commissions in recent years. Earlier this year, the mayor’s office announced it had received a $15,000 grant to help recruit and train women interested in being involved in city government.  Morgan Said, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office, said the city is continuing to go after grants to increase board and commission diversity.

Board service can be an opportunity to tackle an issue close to your heart — making roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, for example, or advocating for Kansas City’s LGBTQ community

Where can I apply to a Kansas City board or commission?

People interested in joining a board or commission can apply through an online form. In addition to employment and demographic information, applicants must provide three references who can be contacted by the mayor’s office.

Turning in an application does not ensure someone will be offered a position. A list of boards and commissions, as well as current vacancies, can be found here

Who handles applications for Kansas City boards and commissions?

Applications are assessed by the boards and commissions manager in the mayor’s office, who reviews resumes and other information submitted by candidates. The manager will also call people who want to get involved but don’t have a specific commission in mind, and talk through what would best suit their interests and expertise. 

People looking for further guidance should contact the mayor’s office.

How long does the process of filling a Kansas City board or commission position take?

The timeline for filling  positions varies. Boards and commissions with charter-mandated responsibilities take priority over smaller boards when it comes to filling vacant positions.

Some positions have four-year terms, so it could be several years before a newly elected mayor can appoint new board members. Many of former Mayor Sly James’ appointees are still active on boards — their replacements will begin with the new year. 

Boards that are not charter-mandated or tied to specific grants may remain inactive until appointees are chosen, and others may be allowed to disband after members’ terms expire.

What am I agreeing to by taking a Kansas City board position?

Board and commission members must fill out annual conflict of interest forms, consent to a potential background check and submit an acknowledgement form that attests they will “assist the board or commission in achieving its mission by being fully engaged, informed, participatory, and respectful to the other individuals with whom I serve and represent.”

Members must also not have any outstanding city, county or state taxes, any felony convictions, or any history of suing the city or its departments. 

If a member moves out of state, they have to inform the mayor’s office of the move. 

Agreeing to take a board position does not mean you are required to stay for the full term. The city offers resignation forms for those who no longer wish to participate on a board or commission.

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Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter with a focus on telling meaningful stories through data at The Kansas City Beacon. She is a Report for America corps member.