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Leavenworth mayor calls on commissioner to resign over racist comment

Posted at 5:58 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 23:42:55-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Leavenworth Mayor Mark Preisinger on Thursday called for a county commissioner to resign after making a controversial remark at a meeting this week. 

The city of Leavenworth does not have the ability to remove Commissioner Louis Klemp, who came under fire for a comment he made to a black woman presenting a study at a county commission meeting Tuesday.

“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 after her presentation. “You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race, don’t you forget that.” 

In calling for Klemp’s resignation, Preisinger said that he wanted to make the city’s stance on the comment known.

“It affects all of Leavenworth. This has been such negative publicity. It affects us. It affects the city,” the mayor said. “It’s a stain on our community and it has to be removed.” 

County and city leaders said they received calls and emails from all across the country after the comments were publicized.

After the call for Klemp to resign on Thursday, some neighbors in the audience applauded the move by the city commission.

“I’m so happy the city commission kind of took the bull by the horns,” said former mayor Ken Bower, who attended the meeting. “When things go out nationally like this, it’s very disturbing. It’s just wrong. It’s not the way our county or city is.”

Robert Holland, a fellow county commissioner who has called on Klemp to resign and also attended Thursday’s meeting, said the decision by the city commission sent a strong message.

“It showed us that they’re unified with us,” he said. “I think the show of support by this city has done us a great deal of good.”

With pressure continuing to mount, Holland hoped Klemp would see all the criticism coming into Leavenworth County.

“He ought to see the writing on the wall and do the right thing,” the county commissioner said. “You don’t just make those comments up as a joke. I don’t see anything funny about them. I hope he knows that there’s more than just the commission that’s asking him to resign.” 

Klemp would not speak on-camera about the comment but told 41 Action News off-camera that it was a joke. 

Further developments on the matter could come at the county commission’s next meeting.

It will be held at 9 a.m. next Tuesday at Leavenworth County Courthouse.