Kansas county commissioner recall election approved by voters

A recall election against Brian Kinzie (R), District Two representative on the Labette County Commission in Kansas, was held on Dec. 7. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall, removing Kinzie from office.

Voters were asked, “Shall Brian C. Kinzie be recalled from the office of 2nd District County Commissioner?” They had the option to vote yes or no. A total of 58.9% voted yes, according to unofficial election night results.

The recall effort started after Kinzie voted in April 2021 in favor of a motion to enter into final negotiations to allow a wind energy company to place 50 to 70 wind turbines in the county. The motion passed with a vote of 2-1. Recall supporters said they were concerned that Kinzie or his family stood to financially benefit from the deal. Kinzie said, “I’ve given this community 45 years of my life and I’ll continue to do so until there’s no fight left.”

Before recall petitions can be circulated in Kansas, a district attorney or county attorney must certify that it meets specific legal grounds. The petition against Kinzie was allowed to circulate due to misconduct. The Office of the Attorney General of Kansas found that Kinzie and fellow commissioner Cole Proehl violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act when they discussed county business on a phone call outside of a public commission meeting. The attorney general’s office did not file formal charges against Kinzie and Proehl. Instead, they were required to take a refresher course on public meeting compliance.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect 1,202 signatures in 90 days. They submitted 1,582 signatures on Aug. 30. The county verified enough signatures on Sept. 24 to put the recall on the ballot. Kinzie filed a challenge to the sufficiency declaration in Labette County District Court. A senior judge denied his requests to stop the recall process.

Kinzie was serving his fourth term on the three-member commission.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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