Members of a Republican precinct committee voted overwhelmingly Saturday to elect a former TV journalist to assume the seat vacated by former Rep. Steve Brunk.
Chuck Weber, 57, will begin his duties as the representative of House District 85 on Monday, when the legislative session opens.
Weber faced opponent Deb Shelly, a nurse, in the election process that lasted about 30 minutes Saturday morning at the Church of the Resurrection, 4910 N. Woodlawn in Bel Aire.
Republican precinct committee members voted 10-3, with one abstention, for Weber.
Weber, who is married to Cindy and has five children ages 17 to 25, worked as a reporter and assistant news director for KWCH-TV in Wichita from 1984-91. His work there included covering the Kansas Legislature, he said.
“It wasn’t always pretty, but I always had great respect for people on both sides of the aisle for what they were doing up there,” Weber said in a speech to committee members before the vote. “It was a great sacrifice and a lot harder from the inside out than looking in from the public.”
For the past 25 years he has been self-employed, working in film production and as a communications consultant, Weber said.
“My wife and I actually both work for ourselves now,” he said in his speech. “We sort of eat what we kill … and that gives you a great perspective on balancing a budget in the household and being aware of your spending, and being aware of your expenditures.”
Weber described himself as a pro-life conservative who supports gun rights.
“I am a believer of one man and one woman in marriage,” he said in the speech. “Parents are the first and most important educators of children, and to the extent government can do it, we need to support that with school choice or whatever.”
He acknowledged in an interview after the vote the state’s budget deficit, projected to be $14 million at the end of the fiscal year in June. He thinks it can be solved through tightened state government spending.
“Revenue is rising, but spending is rising faster,” Weber said. “So just like I’ve run a household with five kids, and mom and dad in the house as well, we have to stay within a budget. And I’m going to bring those kind of household budgeting principles to Topeka to the extent possible, to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely and, if possible, if we can shrink government.”
Brunk officially resigned from the Legislature on Jan. 4 to take a position as executive director of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, which is affiliated with the national Focus on the Family. He served as District 85’s representative for the past 13 years, and said to committee members after Saturday’s vote that he was “completely comfortable with either” Shelly or Weber assuming his seat.
“I purposefully did not overtly engage in this election, only to the point that I wanted to make sure my replacement was someone that had similar values, someone who would honor life, someone that would honor marriage, someone that could continue on with conservative principles as it related to business and the welfare of family, and promote a culture where families can grow and businesses can excel,” Brunk said.
“… Honestly, you had two outstanding choices here to make.”