Face to Face: Shawnee City Clerk Stephen Powell
Name: Stephen Powell
Born: Powell was born in southern Oklahoma. He attended the University of Oklahoma before moving to South Florida for a couple of years. In 2002, he moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he worked as the right-of-way technician for the city of Shawnee. During that time Powell went back to school, where he earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from UMKC. Later he attended Park University, where he earned a master's degree in public administration.
Occupation: City Clerk
Hobby: Powell said he enjoys to travel. He has visited all 48 contiguous U.S. states.
“Hopefully I'll make it to Hawaii and Alaska before I'm dead,” he said, adding he loves to travel by train.
“I'm a huge Amtrak supporter,” he said. “It's just a an interesting way to travel and a good way to meet people.
Digging deeper: Powell got his start in municipal government in 2002 when he was hired by Shawnee's public works department as the right-of-way technician.
“I was issuing permits to the utility companies to dig up the streets,” he said.
After earning his master's degree in 2006, Powell was promoted to deputy city clerk.
A couple years later, after receiving his certified municipal clerk designation, he was promoted to city clerk.
He was city clerk for a couple more years before leaving to become Johnson County's chief deputy clerk. He was later promoted to clerk of the board and chief of staff.
A little over a year ago he returned to Shawnee as the city's court administrator.
About three weeks ago he was promoted back to city clerk, with duties that include overseeing a new court manager's position the city is looking to fill.
“I basically made a big circle,” he said. “I've always loved being in the clerk's office.”
As city clerk, Powell is responsible for keeping the history of the organization and the community.
“It's really being the contact for anyone inside or outside the city who has any questions where they can come for answers or get directed to the people who have the answers,” he said.
The city clerk is also responsible for making sure that all of the governing body documents are prepared for the meetings and ensuring all the minutes are done accurately.
“It all goes back to making sure that the history in what we do as an organization and community is preserved in a way future generations can look at and see what we did and why,” he said.
Powell also oversees three assistant city clerks who are responsible for issuing business licenses and special animal permits.
“So with the court oversight my duties have expanded a little bit beyond what they were before when I was city clerk the first time,” he said.
In his role helping manage city court, Powell is overseeing a software conversion aimed at making court paperless in the coming months.
Powell said he returned to City Hall because he enjoys working in Shawnee.
“It very much has a small town feel,” he said. “It has a tight-knit community feel, which I think may not have that feeling in other larger Johnson County communities.”