Kansas ex-mayor accused of engineering a 'coup' to be reinstalled
Goddard, Kansas mayor Hunter Larkin (campaign photo).

Hunter Larkin, the 23-year-old former mayor of a small town in Kansas, engineered what some locals are describing as a "coup" at the city council to be reinstalled as mayor without an election, reported The Daily Beast on Monday. But his political maneuvering was completely legal.

"Larkin’s improbable ascent to office can be traced back to August 2020, when the then-mayor of Goddard stepped down amid a fraud charge for counterfeiting tickets to the local zoo’s 'Zoobilee' charity fundraiser. Then-21-year-old City Council President Hunter Larkin was appointed to the job," reported Justin Rohrlich. "In November 2021, Larkin, who by day works as an accounting manager for a fiberglass oil field pipe manufacturer owned by a wealthy local family that has helped fund his political aspirations, was busted for DUI. He later pleaded guilty, receiving a sentence of probation and staying on as mayor until May 2022, when he resigned in the wake of a news report calling his ethics into question. Larkin said he was leaving office to focus on a statehouse run, but kept a seat on the city council."

According to the report, Larkin, who lost that legislative race last year, then used a series of alliances and procedural tricks on the city council at a meeting last Tuesday night to get reinstated to his old job — without the people of Goddard getting a vote on it.

At that council meeting, then-Mayor Larry Zimmerman, who was elevated from vice mayor after Larkin resigned, nominated local hospice chaplain Jeffery Jones for a vacant council seat, which deadlocked. He then nominated radio host and rooftop solar panel sales man Aubrey "Cowboy Rip" Collins, who was confirmed.

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Larkin then made a motion to remove Zimmerman as mayor, agreed to by everyone but Zimmerman himself, and Vice Mayor Sarah Leland briefly was elevated, after which she nominated Larkin to take her place. The council then moved to oust City Administrator Brian Silcott, a longtime critic of Larkin, but he resigned before that could be put to a vote.

Jones, who left the meeting before Zimmerman was re-appointed mayor, compared the whole process to "Germany in 1935." Michael Proctor, the former councilman whose departure allowed Collins to be appointed and kick off the whole process, has now initiated a signature campaign to hold a recall election against Larkin.

Larkin's campaign page for his unsuccessful state house run, which is still up as of press time, proclaims that "This campaign is about giving a voice to the people of our community and defending what so many of us hold dear, like voter integrity, the right to bear arms, protecting the unborn and keeping Critical Race Theory (CRT) out of schools."