Hays businessman Dustin Roths, owner of Diamond R Jewelry, will serve out the term of Ellis County Commissioner Barb Wasinger, who has resigned to represent the 111th District in the Kansas House of Representatives.
Wasinger, after a prolonged recount, beat out incumbent Rep. Eber Phelps in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Roths in 2017 came in a very close second for a seat on the Hays City Commission. He was elected to Wasinger’s seat before Christmas by Republican party precinct chairs in Ellis County by a vote of 3 to 0.
Al Ackerman, a candidate in 2016 for the four-year District 2 County Commission seat, was the only other person seeking to replace the outgoing Wasinger.
While there were only five eligible precinct chair voters at the party meeting on Dec. 18, it was well attended by registered Republicans in the county, said Roths, who chairs the Ellis County Republican Party.
“There were almost 30 people there,” he said. “We had a pretty extensive talk, questions from the crowd, for the candidates.”
A retired highway patrolman, Ackerman in 2016 ran for county commission, but Wasinger defeated him in the primary.
“It was kind of neat to hear the questions people had,” Roths said. “They were concerned about the budget, how much time we’d have available, and things of that nature. Just basic concerns about what’s going on in the county.”
Gov. Laura Kelly, who is sworn in Jan. 14, must sign off on Roths’ election. Wasinger has officially resigned, Roths said, so the paperwork has been sent to the governor.
Two eligible precinct chair voters abstained because of ties to Roths. They were Lucas Roths, Roths’ brother, and Chase Berg, a friend that Roths previously appointed to the spot.
Pending approval, Roths will join the three-person commission at the same time as Butch Schlyer, who was elected in the general election. Already serving is Dean Haselhorst.
“We have to wait till the governor signs off on the paperwork, and if that happens, I’m scheduled to be sworn in the same time that Butch would be sworn in,” Roths said.
Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus has said previously that swearing in of the new District 2 County Commissioner could likely occur the evening of Monday, Jan. 14, the first regularly scheduled commission meeting for 2019.
Finding precinct leadership to vote on Wasinger’s replacement was a challenge, since most of the county’s precinct positions are vacant.
There are 58 precinct positions in the county, and only 11 are filled. Of those, only eight were actually elected, the rest were appointed, at least two at the request of the appointees.
Roths previously appointed his brother, Lucas Roths, to Hays City Ward 1 Precinct 1, and Jerome Vajnar to Hays City Ward 3 Precinct 1.
Elected precinct officials in District 2 are Hays Ward 3 Precinct 4’s husband and wife John Pyle and Becky Pyle. There is no precinct leadership in any of the other District 2 precincts.