Gardner, Edgerton and part of Spring Hill will have new representation in the Kansas Senate very soon, and the people’s voice will be strangely absent from the process.
Voters overwhelmingly elected Brownlee to her current post in 2008, but that doesn’t mean voters would necessarily support her choice as a replacement.
However, local voters won’t get a say in who represents them for the next two years in Topeka.
Because Brownlee is a Republican, Republican precinctmen and women from the 23rd District will pick her replacement on Dec. 20. Brownlee has a replacement in mind, but another candidate has stepped forward as well.
Voters who are affiliated with a political party do elect precinct people every two years, however those down-ballot positions are often empty and then filled by appointment by political party officials over which local residents have very little influence.
Voters are welcome to attend the replacement convention and are also free to call on precinct people to voice their support or opposition to Brownlee’s potential replacements.
However, the precinct people will vote by private ballot. There will be no record by which to hold a precinct person accountable should they vote against the will of those in their precincts.
There are at least two candidates actively campaigning to represent our neck of the woods in the Kansas Senate. Unfortunately, their campaigns aren’t reaching out to the people they’ll actually represent. They’re speed dialing party insiders and officials trying to persuade a handful of people to their side.
Actual residents of the 23rd District have no voice and little influence on how the replacement convention shakes out.
We’re also disappointed that no Gardner, Edgerton or Spring Hill residents have formally stepped forward to campaign for Brownlee’s seat. The two men in question appeared to know little about the more rural part of Brownlee’s district other than what they’ve seen on TV. They know about Bubba and K and M Barbeque, and they know a little about the intermodal. Beyond that, they had little knowledge of the people in our communities that they hope to represent.
We understand that time is short for an election. And we recognize that this replacement process has historically been used without question in Kansas.
However, it may be time to reconsider handing some replacement power back to the people.
Many public officials step down a year before they plan to retire so they can name their replacement and give that replacement a leg up as an incumbent in the future. It’s as if elected officials think the seats they hold are theirs to give away.
Officials with integrity and principles should shy from it. It’s dishonest to run for re-election knowing you plan to step aside shortly and offer the seat to a friend or donor.
That’s not to say Brownlee has done such a thing. She was offered a position in the Brownback Administration, and she wisely accepted. We wish her luck in future endeavors and thank her for her service to this district.
We wish, however, that she would have chosen not to attempt to hand pick a replacement. We’re tired of a top-down political mentality in which the people are simply pawns for a man behind the curtain. We wish the process allowed the people a greater say in who will represent them.