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Clay County committee seeks input on new form of government

Clay County Courthouse
Posted at 9:14 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 23:28:59-05

LIBERTY, Mo. — Clay County's Constitution Committee is asking residents to voice their opinions about what is happening in the government and changes they would like to see.

The committee consists of Clay County citizens appointed by the three county commissioners. Its goal is to seek public input and develop recommendations from residents about a new form of government for the county.

People want accountability in government, according to committee member Jennifer Langston-Justus.

“How we get there, that's the magic question," Langston-Justus said.

Currently, Clay County has three commissioners who make decisions for the county. They are elected officials who serve four-year terms, but residents do not have a way to recall public officials.

"The county has been a mess,” said Jason Withington, who is also a committee member, “and it's time to get some new ideas and change the way we govern.”

Over the past year, the county has been involved in several lawsuits, including fighting the Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Auditor's Office. The Sheriff's Office won its lawsuit against the county, following "drastic" budget cuts the county took. The Missouri State Auditor is still fighting the county for information and documents to complete a citizen-requested audit.

Withington helped organize the audit request.

He said with a constitutional charter, the county could add more commission members.

“We could have the ability to recall elected officials,” Withington said.

Langston-Justus said that other Missouri cities already have charters.

“This doesn't have to duplicate it,” Langston-Justus said. “This could be what our citizens want to see. We are just hoping that citizens will get more involved and change will come for our county and hopefully things will level out."

The Constitution Committee will seek public input before making its recommendations to the commission. It is holding public meetings at 7 p.m. on the following dates:

Jan. 8: Antioch Branch of the Mid Continent Public Library
Jan. 15: Woodneath Branch of the Mid Continent Public Library
Jan. 22: Kearney City Hall
Jan. 29: Smithville City Hall
Feb. 5: Excelsior Springs Community Center
Feb. 26: Gladstone Community Center