City attorney Brad Ralph is taking a leave of absence from his Dodge City position beginning Jan. 9.
He has a good reason.
Ralph will be sworn in as a freshman legislator in Topeka, having won the seat previously held by new state senator Bud Estes.
"I’m excited," Ralph said in an interview on Thursday with the Daily Globe. "I’m not nervous, I don’t have butterflies, but I’m thrilled to be able to represent Dodge City and the people here.
"I’m excited to get there and get going."
So far Ralph said he’s been to some orientation sessions and been shown around the capital.
"The orientations are a big information dump," Ralph said. "There’s no way to take all of it in at one shot, but it’s to help us at least have a general idea of who does what.
"As for getting a tour and finding out where you go, it’s like third grade. You sit there and here’s your stuff. It’s interesting."
The state house committee assignments have not been released yet.
"I’ve been watching on Twitter to see when they come out," Ralph said. "They said it would be any time now. The senate committee assignments were released (Wednesday), so I’m guessing it will be any time now.
"I’d love to be on the transportation or education committees, but being a lawyer, I’m guessing I’ll be on the judiciary committee."
Ralph has a unique experience with education.
"My wife is a former Kansas Teacher of the Year in Dodge City and my son teaches biology in Olathe," he said. "Plus I’ve been an attorney for USD 443 for years.
"It gives me a unique perspective when it comes to education."
The newest legislative session will be different, Ralph believes, because for the first time in several years, lawmakers will take a hard look at the budget, revenues and education costs.
"We’re going to have to work together for the good of Kansas," Ralph said. "There is going to be a serious look at funding, maybe walking back some of the tax cuts to make sure revenue is where it needs to be to fund education and everything else."
This is why the legislature has a whole new look, Ralph said.
"There are 40 freshmen legislators coming in who have never been involved in any of the previous decisions," he said. "The residents of Kansas have spoken and they want things fixed."