Rep. Steve Alford, R-Ulysses, embarrassed himself, the Kansas Legislature and the state last weekend. His constituents should remember it if he runs for re-election this fall.
Alford put Kansas in a shameful national spotlight for his racist remarks Saturday at a legislative coffee in Garden City. Alford represents the most southwest House district in Kansas.
Alford was asked about marijuana legalization, particularly the possibility of tax revenue to be gained by legal sales, such as in neighboring Colorado.
“One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that,” Alford said. “And so, basically, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to do a complete reverse with people not remembering what has happened in the past.”
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Alford, 75, inferred African American reaction to marijuana spurred its prohibition in the 1930s, which has no basis in fact.
Alford didn’t immediately apologize. He took two days — long enough for the Garden City Telegram to write about the exchange and publish video — then tried to clarify his remarks Monday during the opening day of the legislative session in Topeka. Alford, or someone higher up in House leadership, later decided an apology was necessary.
Alford isn’t resigning, though quitting would be appropriate and a sign that Kansans shouldn’t stand for an elected official making racist comments. On Tuesday, he resigned from two chairmanships, House Committee on Children and Seniors, and (vice-chair) of Child Welfare System Task Force.
Residents of Morton, Stevens, Grant and Stanton counties, along with southwest Haskell County and northern Seward County, should begin looking for an alternative in this fall’s election. Whether it’s a Republican, Democrat or Independent, House District 124 can do much better than a lawmaker so ignorant to race and history.