Shortly after being sworn into office Wednesday, Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, handed over a letter stating that he would officially resign his position Jan. 10.
A lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Army National Guard, Tafanelli will depart Wednesday for Iraq, not to return for a year.
Tafanelli represents the 47th District, which includes all of Jefferson County and part of Atchison County. He was first elected to the seat in 2000, replacing Republican Joann Flower, who retired.
Tafanelli said the decision was difficult to make after working hard to get the position.
"I truly enjoy representing the people in the district," he said. "I could have left the position vacant. But there are important issues this session, and I thought it was very important that my constituents be represented."
Travis Oliver, chairman of Jefferson County Republicans, said Wednesday night that he previously spoke with Tafanelli about his options for the House seat and knew he might resign it.
"My intention is to support his wishes while he goes over to Iraq and defends our freedoms," Oliver said. "I'm confident the Republican Party will select a good person to represent the district while he's away."
Oliver said the Jefferson County Republicans would meet Jan. 4 in the Fairview Township Building to select a new representative. Fairview Township is south of Ozawkie
Tafanelli considers his decision to resign as more of a leave of absence. He said he would like the seat back when he returns from Iraq, and he would like to see Flower, who lives in Oskaloosa, take over the seat while he's gone.
"She's a capable legislator," Tafanelli said. "She knows the system and the issues, so I would feel very comfortable knowing that she is representing the district."
Oliver said he was familiar with Tafanelli's recommendation and would give the information to other party members.
"Should she be willing to accept it, I think she would do a fine job," Oliver said of Flower.
Flower couldn't immediately be reached for comment.