Elections

Ranzau recall issue sent to Kansas Supreme Court

Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau’s Ranzau’s district includes northern and central Wichita, as well as Park City, Valley Center and Maize.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau’s Ranzau’s district includes northern and central Wichita, as well as Park City, Valley Center and Maize. File photo

Petitioners hoping to recall Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau have taken their case to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Opponents of Ranzau’s stances on public health have asked the court to overturn a local ruling that effectively halted the recall process. They filed a petition this week.

They are appealing the Dec. 14 decision from District Attorney Marc Bennett’s office that said there were not satisfactory legal grounds to recall Ranzau from office. Ranzau’s commission district includes northern and central Wichita, as well as Park City, Valley Center and Maize.

Sandrine Lisk, who wrote the brief, says the petitioners are not giving up on the recall effort.

“We cannot just sit back and allow him to continue with impunity,” Lisk said. “… It’s about time that citizens get up and do what they have the right to do.”

The County Commission doubles as the county board of health. The December ruling said Ranzau can’t violate duties related to public health since that’s a collective responsibility of the entire five-member commission.

The petitioners disagree. They want the court to clarify state law and issue an order directing the District Attorney’s Office to find the recall petition sufficient. If that were to happen, petitioners could gather signatures from voters in Ranzau’s district to try to force a special election.

“The Kansas Constitution creates a duty or legal obligation on counties to provide for its less fortunate inhabitants, and such duty must necessarily fall on each individual county commissioner,” the brief says.

The brief also says Kansas law should be interpreted “in favor of the ability to exercise the right to recall elected officials.”

“We are committed to exercising the right given to us to say, ‘Look, you may have been elected to do your job as a county commissioner, but obviously you are not doing your job and we have a right to recall you,’ ” Lisk said.

Ranzau was the commission chairman who signed off on votes involving public health grants and the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program.

Bennett said Wednesday in an e-mail that “the petitioners are free to seek any legal remedy they believe furthers their cause.”

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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