Manhattan City Commissioner Usha Reddi Thursday was selected by Democratic Party members to replace retiring State Sen. Tom Hawk by 23 to 19 vote.
“Thank you everyone, I appreciate your support,” Reddi said following the vote. “I’m easily accessible, feel free to call me, text me — whatever you need, I’m working for you now.”
A nine-year city commissioner, teacher at USD 383 and union leader, Reddi narrowly topped Riley County Democratic Party Chair Katie Allen for the nomination during a convention in the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
“It was a very close race, it’s great to see that somebody else wants to seek the position as well,” Reddi told KMAN after the end of the convention. “I’m very excited for this new adventure and I look forward to representing Senate District 22.”
The two were the only candidates nominated to fill the remaining two years of Hawk’s term, having each been allotted five minutes to make remarks prior to the ballot.
KMAN also caught up with Allen following the results, who said you never know what can happen in these situations.
“I’m sure [what helped]put her over the edge is she has been in politics for 10 years,” Allen says. “I really appreciate everybody coming out here, and I really do think we need young, working-class people in the Senate — so I hope more of us will get engaged and involved in our local Democratic Party and keep working hard to elect Democrats.”
Allen has lived in Manhattan since 2015 and has been involved in Democratic Party politics since 2006 – as well as working as a regional deputy director for the nonprofit organization McREL International, which helps teachers and administrators improve education.
Reddi in her closing remarks encouraged Allen to seek a seat on the city commission, which Allen said she’ll think about.
“You never know, this came about unexpectedly as well,” says Allen. “I’ve always kind of been interested in obviously politics, but being engaged. I’ve served a lot on local boards, a lot of my experience is in other communities. I figured some day I would run, so this was a good experience.”
Reddi will now step up to the Statehouse, currently in her second year of a four-year term serving the City of Manhattan. The chosen successor for Hawk will now likely need her seat on the city commission to be filled with a replacement as chosen by the current governing body. Though, according to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, no requirement to step down exists — but a candidate cannot run for offices at both levels simultaneously.
According to Manhattan Code of Ordinances Article II Sec. 2-16(e), that is to be done by majority vote of the commission “as soon as practicable,” with city code also noting the commission has the discretion to choose the method on how to select the new commissioner “as long as such person meets all qualifications for commissioner” — who would serve the remainder two years of Reddi’s term.