The 119th District will have a new voice in the Kansas House next year.
Dodge City Vice Mayor Brian Weber won the right Friday to represent the district in the House, starting in January. He will replace outgoing Rep. Pat George, a Dodge City Republican who resigned his seat earlier this month after Gov.-elect Sam Brownback appointed him to head the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Weber captured 17 votes during Friday’s nominating convention, hosted by the Ford County Republican Central Committee. Dodge City Commissioner Jim Sherer finished second with two votes, and ESL instructor Charles Sellens had one.
Weber said he was excited and humbled by the opportunity to represent the 119th District in Topeka.
“Pat George left big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work hard,” he said in an interview following the convention.
Weber said he will fill George’s unexpired two-year term, and he will see how his first legislative session goes before deciding whether to seek office again.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” he said. “But at this point, I think my thought would be to work hard this first session. And if there’s things I don’t accomplish that I want to, then I’ll seek re-election.”
The Globe reported earlier this month that Weber would step down from the city commission if he won the 119th District seat. The remaining commissioners will then appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
After the nominating process ended, the candidates had three minutes apiece to make their case to the 20 voting delegates.
Sellens focused on the need to crack down on illegal immigration. He said he had helped thousands of people during his career overseas, and he empathized with poor people in developing countries — but he could not support anyone who entered the United States without proper documentation.
“Kansas can no longer bear the burden of illegal immigration,” he said. “Right now, we have 15 million illegal immigrants, 15 million unemployed Americans.”
He said state lawmakers could help fight illegal immigration, and he hoped the delegates would send him to Topeka to tackle that issue.
Instead of focusing on specific issues, Weber and Sherer touted their experience in the community and on the city commission.
Weber said he was a partner at Weber Refrigeration, having started in a $1.25-an-hour position and worked his way up to management.
“I know what it takes to make payroll,” he said. “I know what it costs. I know what the damaging effects of rising health care costs are, and I know what the problems are of regulation.”
Sherer said he had served as executive director of Boot Hill Museum for 12 years and was deeply involved in local, state and national efforts to promote tourism. He also cited his six years on the city commission, which educated him about providing quality public services through wise and responsible funding methods.
Page 2 of 2 - “I have a positive attitude,” he said. “I view challenges as opportunities. And I ask for your vote tonight for the opportunity to serve the 119th District as your representative.”
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