Gonzalez edges Malm for 47th District seat
by Dennis Sharkey
Ramon Gonzalez can add state legislator to his resume.
The Perry police chief and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department detective was elected by 24 Republican delegates of the Kansas House 47th District on Saturday to serve the term of Lee Tafanelli who resigned last month after being appointed Kansas adjunct general by Gov. Sam Brownback.
It took four votes to elect Gonzalez. In the final vote he edged Third District Commissioner Richard Malm 15-9.
There were five candidates that received votes in the first round of voting. Gonzalez received the most votes at eight, followed by Malm with six, retired Perry educator Armen Landis with five, retired veteran David Drummond with three votes and Marvin Wayne Ledbetter with two votes.
During the third vote Gonzalez and Malm were tied with 10 votes each with Landis and Drummond hanging on with two votes each.
Gonzalez thanked the delegates for believing in him and urged everyone to contact him with input. Gonzalez joked that he has thick skin serving many years as a police officer.
“I’m sure none of you will call me the names I’ve heard on the street,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez began work on Monday in Topeka. He said Saturday that he will keep his job as Perry Police Chief and as a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department investigator because they are both part-time positions.
Gonzalez’s and Malm’s pitches to delegates were both different.
Malm told delegates exactly what he stood for and what he wanted to do when he got to Topeka. Malm’s main focus was on the state’s budget shortfall and spending.
“I don’t think Kansas has an income problem,” he said. “It has a spending problem.”
Malm said he supports outsourcing and the privatization of some state services.
“Everything needs to be on the table,” Malm said.
Malm also used the polarizing issue of sexually oriented businesses as a platform. He said he would support a law that didn’t pass last year that would regulate sexually oriented businesses. Malm also said he is ready to toe the party line.
“For a long time I carried a lot of water to the elephant,” Malm said. “I want to carry some more.”
Gonzalez, who spent 27 years with Southwestern Bell before retiring and going into law enforcement, said he will use his experiences on the street and in the private sector to help navigate his way through the State House.
“I offer to you 27 years in the management field,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez told delegates that he will not pretend to know all the issues but will seek input from constituents for a direction or position to take.
“Dealing with issues such as the ones that face our district and our state will require input from you,” he said. “It’s with your input that I will make those decisions.
“I do not have the answers. I do not know all the issues,” he added. “I will look forward to talking to you.”
Gonzalez said before winning the election that his seat has already been assigned to three committees, two of which deal with the budget.
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