Kansas legislators denounce municipal ‘seat shopping’
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are condemning the practice of municipal government and school board members resigning from office with the expectation of being quickly reappointed to a different vacancy to artificially extend their terms.
Members of the Legislature have expressed bipartisan disapproval for the insider deals, but haven’t put forth a bill to forbid or limit the practice, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Two “seat shopping” occurrences in southeast Kansas prompted interest in how elective boards, commissions and councils use authority to help incumbents who lost re-election or someone near the end of a term who didn’t file for re-election. The arrangements allow those people to secure longer terms in office without being voted in.
Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said she’d be willing to assign a bill to the Senate Elections Commission imposing a one-year suspension on the type of employee transfer authorized last year by members of the Frontenac Board of Education and members of the Arma City Council.
The Frontenac board accepted the resignation of its president in July, and his colleagues appointed him to fill a vacant seat with two years left on a term. Arma council members appointed an incumbent who lost re-election to a vacant seat that was left open for a long time.
“I’d say that’s against the will of the voters. It’s unacceptable,” Wagle said. “There will be pushback from those voters in that community.”
Republican House Majority Leader Don Hineman said such transfers to extend terms in office are “not right.” But he said lawmakers are reluctant to interfere in local government matters.
“I can hear some local folks say, ‘We have trouble finding people to run for some of those seats in the first place,’” he said. “There is some truth to that, especially in small towns.”
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com