HIGHLAND PARK HIGH (13 NEWS) -- The undersheriff title was removed from Herman Jones name last night, as Shawnee County Republican Committee members voted him into office. He'll officially fill the remainder of the term vacated by retired Sheriff Richard Barta.
Jones collected 160 of the 211 validated ballots from the party committee members to rise to the Sheriff's spot. 50 voted no in the tally. No other candidates were being considered.
Former Topeka Police Chief Ed Klumpp had floated his name for a possible candidacy. Klumpp abruptly withdrew his quick candidacy for the job just before the start of the session. Party members mentioned yellow post cards they received smearing Klumpp's reputation, and were upset by the negative campaigning. Jones said he only seen one of the cards on Thursday.
"I regret that Ed Klumpp's name is not being considered," he said.
Klumpp was upset about the tactics, too. He asked party organizers to distribute the letter explaining his withdrawal, handed to everyone before the start of the meeting at Highland Park High School.
In it he said, "This decision has been a difficult one for me, probably more difficult than the decision to acquiesce to the people that persuaded me to accept the nomination at tonight's meeting. However, the negative politics has reached a level far beyond what can be good for the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office or the Republican Party."
Another late nominee, Topeka Police Lt. Steve Taylor, had his nomination disqualified because he was not at the meeting.
So Jones was given a half hour to be part of a question and answer session with the audience. He used 22 minutes of that time, and took on another issue he's dealt with.. why he switched parties and only became a Republican last year.
He said he switched parties "because it matches my values," and he was not persuaded by Sheriff Barta to change. Barta responds that the switch was Jones' idea, as they had talked about it when the Sheriff brought the long time officer trainer and Highway Patrol Administration Director in, as Shawnee County Undersheriff in 2011.
Sheriff Herman Jones has a long resume in Kansas law enforcement, including a dispatcher and patrol sergeant in Emporia during his college education time. He trained troopers for KHP, worked in the Kansas Law Enforcement Center in Hutchison, also training officers from across the state. Governor Bill Graves tapped Jones to join the brass of the Highway Patrol in 2000.
That was the same year Shawnee County Republicans voted Richard Barta to the position of Shawnee County Sheriff, at a party committee convention similar to the one last night. Barta was tapped to fill the remainder of Dave Meneley's term. He is still being lauded by friends and party members for his dozen years and a very popular and very competent law enforcement administrator.
Jones calls Barta "his mentor and friend," and says the 12-year lawman has "set the standard of excellence for the agency."
Jones says he's not ready to make his mark just yet, after assuming the interim sheriff's title just a few days ago upon Barta's retirement. Barta has not made a decision on whether he may seek a Shawnee County political office.
Now that Herman Jones is the new sheriff in town.. has the bar been permanently set high on deputy and sheriff's operations at the LEC?
"Well, the good can always get better. And I intend to make the department better. I thank the party for this honor, and I promise I will do my very best job as Sheriff."