Leavenworth County politician, who had been deployed to Iraq, returns to Kansas and her house seat

State representative was called to active duty 6 weeks into term

Melanie Meier appreciated sleeping in on a cold Kansas morning Wednesday.

Meier, a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserves who was elected in 2008 as state representative for the 40th District, returned to the state Tuesday evening after serving about nine months in southern Iraq.

“It was rewarding,” Meier said about her time in Iraq. “I learned a lot.”

She worked in the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command from Fort Campbell and then the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command from Fort Hood while in Iraq. She also worked with the 287th Sustainment Brigade, a National Guard brigade from Wichita.

When she was called to active duty, Meier was about six weeks into her first term in the Kansas Legislature. The Leavenworth Democrat resigned.

Her opponent in the primary election, Don Navinsky, was named to fill the seat. He pledged to step down upon her return, a pledge he’ll fulfill Jan. 19.

The 40th District Democratic precinct will decide whether Meier returns to the Legislature. She wants to return and expects a favorable decision.

“Unless someone else steps forward and convinces them they would be the better choice,” Meier said.

While in Iraq, Meier kept up on stories of issues facing Kansas.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” said Meier, who in 1990 earned a degree in economics from Kansas University. “I’m anxious to sit down and read the real plans the governor has.”