Longtime Barton County First District Commissioner Kenny Schremmer died at his Hoisington home Thursday afternoon, leaving those he served with in shock Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s kind of a sad morning,” said Jennifer Schartz, Fifth District commissioner and colleague of Schremmer. “Having sat with him for 16 years, I think Mondays are just going to have a different feeling for a while.”
The commission meets on Monday mornings at the Barton County Courthouse, and Schremmer had been a dependable fixture at these meetings since he was first elected in 2002. He was last re-elected in November 2018, meaning there are two years remaining on this term.
He had been in office for two years when Schartz was first elected. He was the only remaining commissioner making the transition from a three-member to a five-member board.
“What always impressed me the most about Kenny is that he was so solid and steady on what he did,” Schartz said. “He worked above and beyond for his constituents. They relied on him. He did whatever he could to help anybody.”
County Administrator Phi Hathcock said since Schremmer served as the commission chairman, the commission on Monday must fill this seat, as well as the chairman pro tem position. The pro tem steps in should the chairman be unavailable.
Currently Fifth District Commissioner Jennifer Schartz is the pro tem and she will likely be elevated to the chairman post. Commissioners would then select someone to take that second spot.
Now, there is a 21-day deadline to convene a convention of the county’s precinct committee members from the late commissioner’s political party, in this case Republican. But, the announcement of this convention must be made within 10 days.
They will consider applicants to fill the balance of Schremmer’s term which ends in 2022.
County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said she contacted Barton County Republican Party Chairman Dick Friedeman Thursday, starting the 21-day clock. Friedeman will contact committee precinct members for his commission First District to set a time and place for the convention.
The appointee’s name will be submitted to Gov. Laura Kelly who had seven days to finalize the appointment. If no action is taken, the candidate automatically assumes the post.
According to the Barton County website, District 1 takes in the northwest two-thirds of the county and includes Albert, Beaver, Galatia and Hoisington.
Commissioners serve four-year terms, with two of the five commissioners being elected in the same year, and the other three commissioners elected two years later.
Schremmer previously served as chairman from 2014 through 2016, with Schartz in the pro tem seat. Schartz took the gavel in January 2017, with Schremmer as pro tem.