The commissioner, Louis Klemp of Leavenworth County, made the remark on Tuesday while criticizing the options for developing land that were being presented by Triveece Penelton, who works for an architecture and design company.
According to a video recording of the meeting, Mr. Klemp said to Ms. Penelton: I dont want you to think Im picking on you because were part of the master race. You know youve got a gap in your teeth. Youre the master race. Dont ever forget that.
After local news media reported on the comments, officials, including the two other county commissioners, called on him to resign, The Kansas City Star reported. On Saturday, Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Republican, added his name to the list, saying in a statement that racial and discriminative language have no place in our society, and most especially when spoken by someone holding a public office.
The idea of a master race is prominent in Nazi ideology. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas said in a Facebook post that Mr. Klemps remarks were abhorrent.
But Mark Loughry, the administrator of Leavenworth County, which is just outside Kansas City, said in a statement that Mr. Klemps comments were misconstrued and had nothing to do with Nazism.
Mr. Loughry said Mr. Klemp had used the term master race several times in the past year to refer to people with gaps in their front teeth, and his comment was meant to include both Ms. Penelton and himself.
Mr. Klemp did not respond to a message on Saturday. Neither Ms. Penelton nor Mr. Loughry could be reached for comment.
Mark Preisinger, the mayor of Leavenworth, said on Saturday that Mr. Klemps remark lacked common decency and showed he had no filter. But it was hardly the most inappropriate thing Mr. Klemp has said at an official meeting, Mr. Preisinger said.
In November 2017, when the commission was approving a holiday calendar, Mr. Klemp began a monologue during which he lamented that some historical figures were not honored anymore because they once owned slaves. My great-great-grandfather had a slave, he noted.
During his speech, Mr. Klemp called Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army, a wonderful part of history and questioned why Martin Luther Kings Birthday should be recognized when there was not a similar day for George Washington. At that same meeting, he later acknowledged the existence of Presidents Day.
Mr. Klemp also said no one would understand Lincolns historical importance because the Confederacy did not win the Civil War, which is all good, I guess.
During the discussion about the holidays, he looked at a calendar in front of him and said: I didnt see Oprah on there. No, shes not on there as a federal holiday.
Mr. Preisinger said the master race remark was the last straw for many people. Its embarrassing, he said. Its a stain on our community.
Mr. Klemp was not elected to his post but chosen by members of the county Republican Party after the previous commissioner resigned because he was ill, said Rett Rogers, the partys chairman. Mr. Rogers said Mr. Klemp was voted into the position last year by one vote.
Mr. Rogers did not cast his vote for Mr. Klemp — his wife was also in the running — but he said he preferred that Mr. Klemp not resign because his term is ending in January.
He said Mr. Klemps recent remark seemed to be intended as a joke. That was taken in a completely different way, he said.
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — A white county commissioner in northeast Kansas who told a black city planner that he belongs to “the master race” as he rejected her proposed development plan is coming under pressure from fellow commissioners to resign.
Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp cited the master race — the Nazi ideology of Aryan supremacy — at a board meeting Tuesday while responding to a presentation by Triveece Penelton and a colleague on road development options in Tonganoxie, just west of Kansas City.
“I dont want you to think Im picking on you because were part of the master race,” Klemp told Penelton — claiming that the fact that both he and she had “gaps” in their teeth meant they were part of a master race. He then said he didnt like any of the land use options that she had presented to the commission.
Commissioners Robert Holland and Doug Smith called on Klemp to resign before his term ends Jan. 15. The Republican Party appointed Klemp to the commission in October 2017 to fill a vacancy created by a resignation.
“In the best interest of the county, he should resign,” Smith told The Leavenworth Times for a story published Thursday.
“I was shocked. I was in disbelief,” Holland said. “He should resign. I dont care if hes got two days left, he should resign.”
Klemp told KSHB-TV off camera that his comment was a joke. A message left at his home Thursday was not immediately returned.
Klemp, who once ran for governor, has come under criticism in the past for making controversial comments.
Last December, while the commission was discussing holiday schedules, Klemp suggested Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army in the Civil War, should be honored.
“Not everybody does them all because we have Robert E. Lee…Oh God Robert E. Lee…wonderful part of history,” Klemp said.
“It bothers me that if were going to have Martin Luther King Day, why dont we have a George Washington?” he said. “I think George was a pretty important guy.”