Archive for Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Party squabbles

January 15, 2003


Any political disputes raised by party elections to fill two local legislative seats should be settled and put aside so legislators can give their full attention to the problems facing the state.

It would be unfortunate if internal party squabbles are allowed to compromise Lawrence's representation in the 2003 Kansas Legislature.

The resignations of two Lawrence legislators to allow them to take other state posts made it necessary for local party committee people to hold conventions to fill the vacant seats. The Republican committee members in Sandy Praeger's Senate district met in November to select Mark Buhler as her replacement. It was a close race between Buhler and State Rep. Tom Sloan, and there are signs that some hard feelings remain.

But at least local Republicans have accepted the decision as final and are moving forward. The same apparently can't be said for Democrats in the 46th District, which was represented by Troy Findley until he resigned his seat to take a job as legislative liaison for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Last Saturday, Democratic committee members elected Paul Davis, who had been working as a lobbyist for the Kansas Bar Assn., to replace Findley. However, supporters of former Mayor Marci Francisco, who also was nominated to fill Findley's seat, continue to try to raise controversy over Davis' residency in the district.

Davis made no attempt to deceive the 15 committee members who voted on Saturday about his residency status. He acknowledged that although he had previously lived in the 46th, he had been living outside the district. However, he had rented a house in the 1500 block of Massachusetts with an option to purchase that house and was in the process of moving into the district. With that knowledge before them, nine committee members chose Davis to fill Findley's seat.

Now, some Democrats are questioning the timing of Davis' move and claiming that he didn't actually live in the district at the time of his election. Various arrangements fulfill the legal requirement for residency, but they say his status as a renter with plans to sell his other home didn't fill the bill.

If the critics are concerned about whether Davis' election fulfilled the letter of the law concerning residency, they have the option of filing a legal challenge to his election. If they want to make that case, they should do it sooner, rather than later. If they don't want to take legal action, they should drop the matter and allow Davis to get on to the vital legislative business at hand.

It was an extremely unusual circumstance that resulted in two local legislative seats being filled by political party organizations. It may not be surprising that those elections spurred some intra-party squabbling, but it would be too bad if those squabbles detract from any single legislator's ability to do his job or the local legislative delegation's ability to work well together for the benefit of the community.

Our legislators are being faced with many issues vital to the state's future and those issues deserve their full attention in the session ahead.

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