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April 18th, 2021

ronald ryckman portraitEARL WATT • Leader & Times

 

Former State Representative Ron Ryckman has been selected by the Republican Precinct committee members to replace Bud Estes in the Kansas Senate.

Estes died Feb. 13 after winning his re-election to the Kansas Senate in November.

Ryckman, a Meade County citizen, worked with Estes when both served in the Kansas House of Representatives.

The process took three ballots with five people seeking the office. Ryckman led all three rounds and took the majority on the third ballot.

Seward County Republican Chair Tammy Sutherland-Abbott said Seward County was well represented with 21 people in person and another 15 proxy votes which represented 36 of the 141 total precinct representatives.

“I felt Seward County was well represented,” she said. “When it was over, I told Mr. Ryckman not to forget Seward County, and he said he wouldn’t.”

Ryckman will start his duties after being sworn in Wednesday.

“This is turnaround, so they aren’t meeting,” Ryckman said. 

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Turnaround is the time in the Kansas Legislature where bills must have at least passed the House or the Senate to be considered. This gives the other chamber the opportunity to review and vote on bills that originated in the other chamber.

Ryckman and his wife will be receiving their second vaccination shots Monday, and then he will be headed to Topeka.

“I’ve been following the bills,” he said. “There are a lot of the good ones, but the transparency bills and tax cuts will likely be vetoed by the governor.

Ryckman, a Republican, will join the majority in the Senate that has been working with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly through the pandemic.

Now that the appointment process is over, Ryckman said the goal is to unite Southwest Kansans to improve what is happening in Topeka.

“I appreciate everyone who threw their hat in the ring,” Ryckman said. “It’s not easy to go through this process. We need locals making decisions. We need our churches and schools opened, and we don’t need someone in Topeka making decisions for us.”

Kelly has been under scrutiny for her handling of the coronavirus outbreak including an estimated $600 million that the state paid in fraudulent unemployment claims that drained the unemployment trust fund that had been built up to $1 billion. The fund is now empty, and Kansas will have to borrow from the federal government to cover unemployment claims until the state can replenish the fund. Kelly’s Department of Labor finally added security to the system in January but not until $600 million had been drained by fraudulent claims.

Ryckman and Estes continued their friendship beyond Topeka, and the two families spent time together.

“Bud was such a dear friend,” Ryckman said. “We did a lot of things together. His family was very supportive. I probably wouldn’t have been selected without the support of other people.”

Ryckman will use his six years of experience as a member of the Kansas House as a springboard to his service in the Senate.

“That was the deciding factor for a lot of people,” Ryckman said of the appointment process. “I was up there for six years. I know how the system works, how to communicate to achieve a common objective. I know 25 of the 39 senators. You have to find who you can trust. That is a big leg up.”

Ryckman also thought being centrally located in the district was also an advantage.

“If you are not from one of the bigger cities, the other can feel left out,” he said. “Being in the middle, I have friends and connections in every county. I think that is a big plus. I know many workers and owners of farms and businesses throughout the district. We know how important it is for us in Southwest Kansas. I don’t want us to be left out. I will be working hard to get us on the map. I’ve already talked with Department of Transportation. I’ve already started.”

Ryckman will serve the remainder of the 2021 session and the 2022 session before the district will vote as a whole in November of 2022.

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