Leavenworth County commissioner resigns after ‘master race’ comment

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- County commission chairman Louis Klemp resigned Tuesday morning, a week after he told a black woman at a commission meeting that he belonged to the "master race."

County leaders said they now hope to put the negative backlash, created by Klemp's comment, behind them.

Klemp did not appear at Tuesday's county commission meeting. Instead he submitted a letter of resignation to the county clerk.

In the letter, Klemp said he regrets the comment he made and the negative backlash it created through the community.

He said he was pointing out a similar space between teeth that he and Triveece Penelton shared, and his comment was misinterpreted. He wrote that it was "definitely not racially motivated."

Klemp claims he has since contacted Penelton and expressed his regret to her.

Commissioners accepted Klemp's resignation immediately saying he had "done the right thing."

"I do not believe that the term 'master race' should ever be used," said Commissioner Doug Smith. "There is a human race. There is no master race. That is my quote for that."

Klemp's time on the commission was going to expire in January anyway.

He had been elected by Republican precinct leaders in Leavenworth County to serve the remainder of a term for a commissioner who resigned.

A county Republican leader says party members valued his experience as a commissioner previously and had not heard about questionable comments the 80-year-old man has made since then, as a citizen attending government meetings.

The resignation leaves Leavenworth County with only two governing commissioners. Any issues that result in disagreement between the two cannot be resolved until new commissioners take office next year.