Louis Klemp has resigned from the Leavenworth County Commission.

Updated: 2:41 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 with additional information.

Louis Klemp has resigned from the Leavenworth County Commission.

Klemp had come under fire for comments he made last week in which he used the term “master race.”

Klemp did not attend a County Commission meeting Tuesday morning. But his resignation letter was read by County Clerk Janet Klasinski.

“It is with great sorrow that I am submitting this letter to the community that I love and have been a part of for more than 80 years,” Klemp wrote in the letter. “In order to maintain a focus and prioritize the needs of the county I have made a decision to resign.”

Klemp had come under heavy criticism for comments he made Nov. 13 to a woman who was making a presentation.

“I don’t want you to think I am picking on you because we are part of the master race,” Klemp said to the woman. “You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race. Don’t you forget that.”

Klemp’s comments resulted in calls for his resignation from other local government officials as well as the governor.

In his resignation letter, Klemp stated that he regretted his recent comments and the negative backlash they caused for the community.

Klemp made the remarks to an African-American woman. But he stated in his letter that the comment was not racially motivated.

“My attempts at identifying a similarity (space between our teeth) with a presenter were well-meaning but misinterpreted by some and definitely not racially motivated.”

Klemp stated that he has reached out to the woman who made the presentation “and extended my regret and support.”

Klemp’s resignation was effective Tuesday morning.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to be your Commissioner and look forward to progress in Leavenworth County,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Klasinski said the letter was given to her the morning of Tuesday’s meeting.

The remaining two commissioners voted Tuesday to accept the resignation.

“Mr. Klemp has done the right thing,” Commissioner Doug Smith said.

He said Klemp’s comments last week are a good example that one’s choice of words matters.

After the meeting, Smith said the term “master race” should have never been used.

“There is a human race,” he said. “There is no master race.”

Klemp had been serving as the chairman of the County Commission.

Smith said he and the other remaining commissioner, Bob Holland, will decide who will serve as the new chairman when they meet again next week.

Klemp was appointed to the commission last year to temporarily fill a vacancy created by the resignation of former Commissioner Clyde Graeber.

Graeber represented the County Commission’s 2nd District.

Klemp was selected for the position by Republican precinct committee men and women from the 2nd District. His appointment was made official by the governor.

Klasinski said the same process could be followed to appoint someone to fill the vacancy created by Klemp’s resignation.

Vicky Kaaz, a Republican, already has been elected to take over as the 2nd District commissioner in January.

Kaaz said she is willing to step into those duties early if local Republican officials approach her about being appointed to fill the vacancy.

Kaaz said Klemp’s resignation Tuesday was in the best interest of the county.

“I think it was the right thing for Louie to do,” she said, referring to Klemp by his nickname.

Holland said after Tuesday’s meeting that the commission can operate with only two members.

“So we can move forward,” he said.

Holland said that if he and Smith disagree on an issue, they can try to work out their differences. If they are unable to work it out, the matter can be tabled until they are joined by a third commissioner.

The County Commission eventually will expand from three members to five.

Voters in Leavenworth County approved of the expansion earlier this month.

Tuesday’s meeting was not in the usual location for County Commission meetings.

The meeting was moved from the commission chambers at the Leavenworth County Courthouse to across the street in a courtroom at the Justice Center.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke said he recommended the change.

He said the location was changed because a large turnout was expected for Tuesday’s meeting. He said the location also was changed out of an abundance of caution for security.

“No specific threats were made,” he said.

But he said the County Commission office received about 600 emails and phone messages. And many of them were hostile in nature.

Members of the public who enter the Justice Center have to pass through a metal detector.

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