Women legislators call for Coleman’s resignation

Aaron Coleman

Seven women who are incoming members of the Democratic House Caucus called today for Rep.-elect Aaron Coleman’s resignation.

Coleman won a very close election in the Wyandotte County Democratic primary in the Turner area against long-time incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-37th Dist. Coleman also easily won against a write-in campaign for Frownfelter and other candidates in the general election.

During the campaign, allegations were raised that Coleman, age 20, had engaged in revenge porn as a middle-school student and that he had allegedly been physically abusive toward a girlfriend within the past year. The governor has called Coleman unfit to serve. He later sent out a social media message about the governor, which he said afterward was a reference to politics and not violence, but which sounded potentially violent, “People will realize one day when I call a hit out on you it’s real.”

Calling for Coleman’s resignation today were seven incoming legislators, Stephanie Byers, Jennifer Day, Linda Featherson, Christina Haswood, Jo Ella Hoye, Mari-Lynn Poskin and Lindsay Vaughn. Their statement said Coleman should face “accountability for violence against women.”

“We believe in second chances. We believe that people can change,” Rep.-elect Mari-Lynn Poskin, Leawood, said in a statement. “However, actions in recent weeks, combined with his history of violence, continuously demonstrate that he is unfit to serve.”

The new legislators want Coleman to resign before the 2021 session begins Jan. 11. Supporting their call for resignation was the Democratic House Caucus.

Asked if he had a response to calls for resignation, Coleman stated:

“Neo-liberal corporate Democrats in the Kansas Legislature cannot claim to advocate for women if they seek to overturn the vote of thousands of women who voted for me.

“Their voices should not be silenced, nor their influence on legislation diminished by failing to assign me committees.

“Suffrage was all about having a voice and a vote which women won in 1912 in Kansas.

“Refusing to accept the decision of the voters in my district would, in effect, strip both men and women of their democratic right to participate in state government,” Coleman stated today.

Besides the House Democratic Leadership, the Kansas Democratic Party also supports Coleman’s resignation, according to a news release today.

“Today’s condemnation of Aaron Coleman’s actions speaks volumes and makes it clear that the Kansas legislature has no place for anyone making violent threats against women. The Kansas Democratic Party stands firmly alongside the seven incoming Kansas House Democratic legislators’ statement,” a news release from the Kansas Democratic Party stated.

House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer stated in a news release today that the Democratic House Caucus is urging Coleman to resign.

“The Democratic House caucus believes women,” House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer said in a statement. “It’s important that our incoming members feel safe and heard. We strongly support their right to publicly address their concerns, and appreciate their advocacy for domestic violence survivors across Kansas.”

The news release stated that violence against women and abusive public rhetoric violates the Democratic House Caucus’ values and compromises the position of a representative for the people. It pointed out that he admitted to a situation involving a girlfriend less than a year ago, and currently there is a no-contact order against him. A campaign worker for Frownfelter has a no-contact order against him.

“The representative-elect’s actions and behavior is an insult to domestic violence survivors throughout Kansas,” Sawyer said in the news release. “His presence in the Kansas legislature undermines generations of work to shine light on the horrors of domestic violence, and erodes ongoing efforts to support the courageous survivors who publicly stand against their abusers.”

It’s likely that some individual Democrats in Wyandotte County are split or do not want to get in the middle of the issue of whether Coleman should resign.

State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., today said he had not yet heard about the women legislators’ call for Coleman to resign.

“I’m a bit disappointed that we are not as a party trying to find a way to forgive and to heal, and to groom, really, if that’s not too politically incorrect a word, someone who obviously has some issues to overcome,” Sen. Haley said.

That would at least give an opportunity for the voters in Coleman’s district, many of whom also live in Sen. Haley’s district, to determine their leadership, Sen. Haley said.

While Sen. Haley said he was disappointed at the call for resignation, he was not surprised, as Coleman’s language and conduct has been disturbing and inflammatory at times. “He definitely needs some grooming or mentorship.”

Also, Sen. Haley said there are others who are serving in the Kansas Legislature who have been convicted of domestic abuse.

There is a question in some legislators’ minds about whether Coleman should be held accountable by the legislators for incidents that occurred before he took office. Sen. Haley said he was still trying to find out how what Coleman did yesterday could be germane to his service today.

“Do I think he should resign?” he asked. “As someone who represents seven of the precincts that are located in his House district, in my Senate district, I respect the vote of the people who live in our respective districts, and I believe they have the opportunity to speak.

“I don’t want the Democratic Party to morph into a non-democratic entity,” Sen. Haley said. “We can’t criticize Donald Trump for not accepting the will of voting America and then turn around and say that we, the Democratic Party in Kansas, will so quickly not accept the will of the voters in the 37th House District.

“The people have spoken, and we have to find a way to make better the will of the people, in the representatives that the people in a democracy elect,” Sen. Haley said.

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