Derby will be sending a new representative to the state House next year for the first time in 18 years.
Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby, announced Thursday that he will resign his seat at the end of his current term. At 78, he is the oldest serving legislator, House or Senate.
"I had a good run," said Myers, who served as a committee or subcommittee chairman for 16 of his 18 sessions in the Legislature. "I think I maintained my integrity and didn't capitulate to any pressure from any segment of the population."
Myers said he has talked with potential candidates who might want to replace him in the House. But he said no one has made a firm decision and he would not reveal any names.
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As a lawmaker, he was better known for shaping legislation in committee than for proposing and advocating for new laws.
One prominent exception came in 2007, when he fought for a bill to establish an English-only policy for the state. That bill passed both houses and was signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
A retired aircraft engineer, Myers now serves as chairman of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee.
He is also the only Wichita-area Republican on his two other committees, Energy and Utilities, and Economic Development and Tourism.
Myers said he would have liked to have stayed in the Legislature but family responsibilities will require him to stay closer to home.
"When you're gone four months out of the year and only home on weekends, it's the family members who have to suffer and have to sacrifice," he said. "I needed to take responsibility of being a husband and father and brother." Myers has a brother who is 91.
Myers said he was disappointed in the recently concluded wrap-up session, where lawmakers increased the state sales tax to close an immediate $300 million budget gap and to fund highway projects long-term.
"That tax is not going to come off unless we get a boom economy," Myers said. "It's a tax on the economy, really. It doesn't produce anything except government jobs."
Myers' departure adds an open seat to an already spicy political season in the Derby area.
Three well-known local officeholders, Derby Mayor Dion Avello, Derby City Council member Chuck Warren and Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton, are seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Sedgwick County Commissioner Gwen Welshimer.
Before becoming a commissioner, Welshimer served in the House, representing the 88th District, just north of Myers' 82nd District.
But while they came into the House at the same time from adjoining districts and both are anti-tax, they were not close as legislators.
"He's been very rigid in the social conservative side of things," Welshimer said.
Welshimer, a Democrat, said she did not know of Myers' plan to retire and she's not sure who might run for the seat.
"Democrats have not had much luck down there," she said. In the 2008 general election, Myers beat Mulvane resident Anita Hafner 65 percent to 35 percent.
As for Republicans, "It seems like all the people who want to run for office are running against me," Welshimer said.