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Mr. Nienstedt began his duties as Ottawa City Manager on October 15, 2007, having just completed a 14-year tenure as City Manager in Fort Scott. Since beginning his career in 1980, he has served in Concordia, Stockton, Maize and North Newton. Mr. Nienstedt graduated from High School in Beardstown, Illinois and grew up in Kansas and Minnesota. He earned an undergraduate degree from Emporia State University (1978) and a graduate degree from Wichita State University (1980). He is a United States Air Force Veteran (1971-1975) and was stationed at Kansas City, Missouri and overseas in Germany, Italy and Spain. 


“I am pleased to be serving in the community of Ottawa. Our community is experiencing considerable growth and is well poised to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Ottawa not only has great citizens but they have an outstanding Governing Body and City Staff that work on their behalf every day to help improve the quality of life for all Ottawans.” Richard feels very strongly that every citizen is important and that local government is working on their behalf to create a safe, clean community that provides all citizens with educational, employment, recreational and shopping opportunities.


Richard and his wife, Rita, have been married since 1977. Rita They have three grown children: Marshall and and his wife Kim (Garnett High School Graduate) are both teachers in Fredonia, and are parents of 3-year-old twins Jack and Grant; Robyn and her husband Dalton and 4-year old Lucas live in Emporia; Aimee is a live-in Nanny in Mission for a Belgium couple and works at TouchPoint Autism Services.

City Manager Richard U. Nienstedt

Contact Information:
City Manager: Richard U. Nienstedt
Address: 101 S Hickory-2nd Floor
Ottawa, KS 66067
Phone: (785) 229-3637
Fax: (785) 229-3639


City Manager
The City Manager is hired contractually by the City Commission to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City organization. The City Commission may remove the City Manager from office at any time. The City Manager serves as the CEO of the City and is charged with the responsibility of supervision, coordination, and administration of the City. The Manager must supervise all daily activities of the city and must review and oversee departmental operations. The following services are provided by the City of Ottawa:


  • Finance and Utility Billing/collection

  • Water treatment

  • Water distribution

  • Wastewater collection

  • Wastewater treatment

  • Electric generation

  • Electric distribution

  • Streets and Alleys

  • Parks (including swimming pool)

  • Cemeteries

  • Fire

  • Police

  • Planning and Zoning

  • Codes Administration

  • Human Resources

  • Municipal Court

  • Memorial Auditorium

  • Municipal Airport


The City Manager and staff work to ensure that the city’s needs are met in an efficient and effective manner. The City Manager is also responsible for:

  • Implementing policies established by the City Commission.

  • Recommending and administering the City’s annual budget.

  • All personnel matters, including hiring, evaluation, discipline, firing, etc.

  • Assisting in policy research and development.

  • Preparing reports and agendas for meetings.

  • Gathering data in response to citizen inquiries regarding City services or operations.


City Commission
Ottawa was governed by a Mayor-Council system until 1913 when the City became a Commission form of government. In 1970 voters established the City Manager form of government with a five member Commission that annually selects a Mayor from its ranks. The citizens of Ottawa elect commissioners at-large. Three seats on the Commission are open every odd numbered year. Two Commissioners are elected to four-year terms and one is elected to a two-year term.

The City Commission is the legislative and policy making body of the City. Regular City Commission meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday each month. The first Wednesday meeting is scheduled at 7:00 p.m. and the third Wednesday is set at 10:00 a.m. The City Commission also usually meets on Monday afternoons (3 or 4 o’clock) for a work study session. Finally, the City Commission also meets in joint session with the Franklin County Commission and U.S.D. 290 School Board every third Wednesday at noon. All meetings are open to the public.

Form of Government in Ottawa
Ottawa operates under the Commission/Manager form of government, a system that combines political leadership of elected officials with strong managerial experience of a professional City Manager. In this form of government, Commissioners are leaders and policy makers elected to represent the citizens and concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens’ needs and wishes. The Manager is hired by the City Commission to carry out policies and ensure that the entire City is being served. If the Manager is not responsive to the City Commission’s wishes, the Commission has the authority to terminate the Manager at any time.

The Mayor serves as “the first, among equals”. The Mayor presides at Commission meetings, serves as spokesperson for the community, as an ambassador and defender of the community, and as a representative in intergovernmental relations. Together, the Mayor, Commission and Manager form a policy development and management team.

The City Manager is hired to serve the Commission and the community and brings the benefits of education, training and experience in administering local government projects and programs. The Manager prepares a budget for the Commission’s consideration; recruits, hires, disciplines, and supervises all of the organization’s employees; serves as the Commission’s chief adviser and carries out the Commission’s policies. Commissioners and citizens count on the Manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives and long term consequences of decisions and policies. Similarly, the Manager relies on his staff to provide professional and well-reasoned information and recommendations, and the highest level of quality public service possible.

City Manager reviewing paperwork
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