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Stories about Kansas

Two races to be decided in Aug. 3 primary in Topeka, Kan.

The nonpartisan primary for Kansas’ capital city, Topeka, is on Aug. 3. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on June 1.

Candidates filed for mayor and Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 of the city council. Mayor Michelle De La Isla is not seeking re-election. Five candidates filed to replace her: Daniel Brown, Leo Cangiani, Patrick Klick, John Lauer, and Mike Padilla.

Municipal primaries in Kansas are canceled if three or fewer candidates file for each seat. District 3 is the only city council district to appear on the primary ballot after five candidates filed for the seat; all other city council seats automatically advanced to the general election.

Ballotpedia comprehensively covers the 100 largest cities in the United States by population. Our coverage also includes mayors, city councils, and district attorneys in the 32 state capitals that are not already part of our largest cities coverage. Please note that there may be more offices on the ballot in this capital city than those listed above. 

Ballotpedia is also covering the primaries in Wichita, Kan., scheduled for the same day.

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Voters in Wichita, Kan., to decide city council primaries on Aug. 3

The city of Wichita, Kan., is holding a nonpartisan primary election on Aug. 3 for two seats on the city council. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2.

In the District 3 race, incumbent Jared Cerullo is facing opposition from six candidates. Jason Carmichael, Jerome Crawford, Ian Demory, Mike Hoheisel, Cindy Miles, and Tevin Smith are running against Cerullo in the primary election. Cerullo was appointed to the city council in March 2021 to replace James Clendenin. Clendenin resigned on Dec. 31, 2020, after being censured for his role in an attempt to falsely accuse Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) of sexual harassment.

In the District 6 race, incumbent Cindy Claycomb will face off against Maggie Ballard, Martin Garcia, Loren John Hermreck, Dereck Reynolds, and Andy Speck in the primary election. Claycomb was elected to the city council in 2017.

The District 1 seat on the city council will also be on the ballot in 2021, but the race does not require a primary election. Incumbent Brandon Johnson and Myron Ackerman will face off in the general election. Johnson was elected to the city council in 2017.

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 49th-largest city in the U.S. by population. It had an estimated population of 389,938 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 68 cities, including 40 mayoral elections.

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Wichita, Kansas

United States municipal elections, 2021



Voters to decide mayoral, city council primaries on Aug. 3 in Topeka, Kan.

The city of Topeka, Kan., will hold a nonpartisan primary election on Aug. 3 for mayor and city council. The top two vote-getters in the races will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.

Daniel Brown, Leo Cangiani, Patrick Klick, John Lauer, and District 5 city council member Mike Padilla are running for mayor of Topeka. Mayor Michelle De La Isla announced in March that she would not be seeking re-election in 2021. She has served as Topeka’s mayor since January 2018.

Five city council seats will also be on the ballot in 2021. The only district to require a primary election will be in District 3, where incumbent Sylvia Ortiz is facing four challengers. William Hendrix, David Johnson, Lana Kombacher, and Regina Platt have all filed to run. Ortiz has served on the city council since 2005. The following four races are going directly to the general election:

*District 1: Incumbent Karen Hiller will face Lindsay Jackson in the general election. Hiller has served on the city council since 2009.

*District 5: Marcus Clark, Ariane Davis, and Brett Daniel Kell are running for this open seat. Incumbent Mike Padilla is running in the mayoral race. He has served on the city council since 2018.

*District 7: Incumbent Neil Dobler is running against Joel Campbell in the general election. Dobler was appointed to the city council in 2019.

*District 9: Incumbent Michael Lesser and Gregory Bland Jr. are facing off in the general election. Lesser has served on the council since 2018.

The city of Topeka had a population of 125,310 in 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau. Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 71 cities, including 43 mayoral elections, in 2021.

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United States municipal elections, 2021



Former state Rep. Ronald Ryckman appointed to the Kansas state Senate

The Republican precinct committees of Kansas Senate District 38 appointed Ronald Ryckman (R) to the state Senate on March 4. Ryckman replaces Bud Estes (R), who passed away on Feb. 13.

Since the vacancy occurred before May 1 of the second year of Estes’ term, a special election will be held in November 2022. The winner of that election will serve until Estes’ term expires in January 2025.

Before his appointment, Ryckman served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, representing District 115. He did not run for re-election to the state House in 2016. Ryckman’s son, Ron Ryckman, currently serves in the Kansas House of Representatives, representing District 78 since 2013. Ron Ryckman also serves as the speaker of the House. 

As of March 11, there have been 31 state legislative vacancies in 21 states so far this year. Fifteen of those vacancies have been filled. Ryckman is one of five Republicans to fill state legislative vacancies in 2021.

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Supporters, opponents of Louisiana constitutional amendment on abortion raised over $1 million in 2020

Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition, the campaign in support of Louisiana Amendment 1, and Louisiana for Personal Freedoms, the opposition campaign, reported receiving a combined total of $1.1 million in contributions for the 2020 election cycle. 

Louisiana voters approved Amendment 1 in November 2020 by a vote of 62.06% to 37.94%. It added language to the Louisiana Constitution stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

According to the latest campaign finance reports filed February 17, Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition reported $681,191 in contributions. The top donors to the coalition included:
• LA Right to Life Educational Committee – $280,000
• Edward L. Rispone – $50,000
• Donald T. Bollinger – $25,000
• Kenneth Wood Sr. – $25,000
• William Henry Shane Jr. – $20,000

Louisiana for Personal Freedoms reported $428,824 in cash and in-kind contributions. The top donors to the committee included:
• BYP 100 – $150,000
• Open Society – $100,00
• Lift Louisiana – $80,758.12
• Planned Parenthood Action Fund – $51,448
• Catholics for Choice – $5,000

As of 2021, at least 10 states, according to The Guttmacher Institute, provided a state constitutional right to abortion based on court rulings. Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. In Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), West Virginia (2018), and Louisiana (2020), these constitutional amendments were passed. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), these constitutional amendments were defeated.

Kansas voters will be deciding a similar measure in August 2022 to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion. The amendment was a response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), in which the court decided that the Kansas Bill of Rights includes a right to abortion.

Louisiana Amendment 1 was referred to the ballot by the state legislature in June 2019. A two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment.

Committees registered to support or oppose all 129 statewide measures on the ballot in 2020 reported a combined total of $1.23 billion in contributions.

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Kansas state Senator Bud Estes dies

On Feb. 13, Kansas Sen. Bud Estes (R) died after being hospitalized with an illness. Estes was first elected to state Senate District 38 in 2016, serving until his death. Before that, Estes was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, representing District 119 from 2013 to 2017.  

Estes ran for re-election to the Kansas Senate on Nov. 3, 2020, winning with 68.9% of the vote to Edgar Pando’s (D) 31.1%. In addition to his public service, Estes had owned a farm implementation business.

Republican precinct committee members will select Estes’ replacement, with Gov. Laura Kelly (D) officially making the appointment. Since the vacancy occurred before May 1 of the second year of Estes’ term, the appointee will serve until the next general election in November 2022. A special election will then be held for the seat, with the winner serving the remainder of Estes’ term.

As of Feb. 16., there were 28 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one vacancy in the Kansas state Senate. Kansas has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.  

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Kansas voters will decide an amendment in 2022 saying there is no right to abortion in the state constitution

The Kansas State Legislature referred the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment to the August 2, 2022, primary ballot. The amendment will reverse a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that ruled that the Kansas Bill of Rights granted a right to abortion. The amendment would add a section to the Kansas Bill of Rights to state that constitution does not provide a right to abortions and the government is not required to provide funding for abortions. The new section would also add that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws to regulate abortion.

In Kansas, a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Kansas State Legislature during one legislative session is required to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. This amounts to 84 votes in the House and 27 votes in the Senate.

On January 22, 2021, the state House passed HCR 5003 with a vote of 86 to 38 with one absent. All Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and all but one Democrat that was absent voted against it. The one Independent in the House voted against the amendment as well.

The measure was introduced in the state Senate on January 21, 2021. The state Senate passed the amendment on January 28, 2021, in a vote of 28-11 with one absent. All 11 Democrats voted against the amendment. One Republican was absent, and the remaining 28 Republicans approved the amendment. Proponents refer to the measure as the “Value Them Both Amendment.”

The same amendment was introduced during the 2020 legislative session. After receiving a two-thirds vote in the state Senate, the state House voted 80-43 on the measure, four votes under the required two-thirds.

As of January 2021, court rulings had determined that at least 10 state constitutions provided a state constitutional right to abortion according to The Guttmacher Institute. Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. The most recent measure was approved in Louisiana in November 2020 with 61.1% of the vote. Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), and West Virginia (2018) also previously approved measures to declare no right to an abortion in their respective state constitutions. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), similar constitutional amendments were defeated.

From 1995 through 2020, the Kansas Legislature referred ten constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected two of the referred amendments.

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Melissa Standridge sworn in as Kansas Supreme Court justice

Melissa Standridge was sworn in on Dec. 14 as a justice on the Kansas Supreme Court. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) appointed Standridge on Nov. 30 to succeed Justice Carol Beier, who retired on Sept. 18. Standridge was Gov. Kelly’s third nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Kansas law, the governor selects a supreme court justice from a list submitted by the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission.

Prior to her appointment, Standridge was a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2020. She was appointed to that court by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D). Before that, Standridge was chambers counsel for Magistrate Judge David Waxse of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas from 1999 to 2008; an attorney for Shook, Hardy & Bacon from 1995 to 1999; and chambers counsel for Judge Elmo Hunter of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri from 1993 to 1995.

Standridge earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas in 1984. She received a J.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, one vacancy occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

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Kansas governor announces appointment of new lieutenant governor after current LG becomes treasurer

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced on Dec. 14 that she would appoint David Toland to the position of lieutenant governor to fill the vacancy created by her appointment of Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers (D) as state treasurer. Toland will take office after Rogers is sworn in as treasurer on Jan. 2, 2021.

Toland is currently the secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, and he will continue to serve in that position while taking on the duties of lieutenant governor. Rogers will serve as treasurer until 2022, when all elected state executive offices, including the governor, are up for election. Kelly’s appointments of Toland and Rogers do not require state legislative confirmation.

Toland will be the 52nd person to serve as Kansas’ lieutenant governor. Of the previous five officeholders dating back to 2007, two were gubernatorial appointees, and three were elected. 

Rogers will be the 41st Kansas state treasurer and the sixth Democrat to assume the position. Of the previous 40 treasurers dating back to 1859, 33 were Republican, five were Democrat, and two were Populist. 

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Kansas governor appoints Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers to become state treasurer

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced Dec. 10 that she will appoint Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers (D) to the position of state treasurer to fill the vacancy created by Jacob LaTurner’s (R) election to the U.S. House. Rogers will be sworn in on Jan. 2, 2021, and will serve until the position is up for election in 2022.

Rogers was elected as lieutenant governor on Nov. 6, 2018. He also served in the Kansas State Senate from 2017 to 2019, representing District 25. 

Former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) appointed LaTurner to the position of state treasurer in April 2017. LaTurner will represent Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House when he is sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021. 

Rogers will be the 41st Kansas state treasurer and the sixth Democrat to assume the position. Of the previous 40 treasurers dating back to 1859, 33 were Republican, five were Democrat, and two were Populist.