A Kansas county official has tendered his resignation amid backlash over remarks he made to a black city planner about a “master race” at a public meeting earlier this month.
Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp announced his resignation would take effect at 9 a.m. local time Tuesday in a letter addressed to Leavenworth County Clerk Janet Klasinski and obtained by HuffPost.
“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 focus and prioritize the needs of the county I have made a decision to resign,” he added. “I regret my recent comment made during a Leavenworth County Commission meeting and for the negative backlash to the community.”
Louis Klemp has resigned from the Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners after making a comment about a “master race” to a black city planner during a public meeting earlier this month.https://t.co/zniGmceLFvpic.twitter.com/7B0Vy4kCSP— Hayley Miller (@hayleymiller01) November 20, 2018
Kansas officials, including Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), called on Klemp to resign following his controversial remarks at the public meeting.
Klemp, who is white, appeared to have expressed disapproval over a presentation given by the woman, a city planner, moments before making the off-the-cuff comment.
“I don’t want to think I’m picking on you, because we’re part of the master race,” Klemp told the woman as he motioned to his teeth. “You know you’ve got a gap in your teeth. You’re the master race. Don’t ever forget that.”
In his letter of resignation, Klemp denied that his comments were racially motivated.
“My attempts at identifying a similarity (space between our teeth) with a presenter were well-meaning but misinterpreted by some,” he wrote.
Though several of his fellow county commissioners had called on Klemp to step down, Leavenworth County Administrator Mark Loughry said last week that he believed Klemp’s comments were “misconstrued.”
“I am deeply sorry that one misconstrued comment by a member of our elected governing body has caused so much grief, sorrow and hatred,” Loughy had said in a statement, adding that Klemp’s controversial remarks had been referring to his own gap teeth.
Loughry told HuffPost in an email Tuesday that he believes Klemp’s resignation was “the right thing for him to do.”
This article has been updated with comments from Loughry.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.