Kansas state Rep. Leonard Mastroni dies after lengthy illness

    Gov. Laura Kelly directed that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff until burial of state Rep. Leonard Mastroni, a La Crosse, Kansas, Republican who died Wednesday at a hospital in Hays. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
    Gov. Laura Kelly directed that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff until burial of state Rep. Leonard Mastroni, a La Crosse, Kansas, Republican who died Wednesday at a hospital in Hays. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — Republican state Rep. Leonard Mastroni, a former district court judge and county commissioner, died on Wednesday, officials said.

    Mastroni, 71, of La Crosse, was running unopposed to another term in the Kansas House representing the 117th District in southwest Kansas. He was a conservative lawmaker who since 2017 served Edwards, Hodgeman, Kiowa and Ness counties and parts of Finney, Ford, Pawnee and Rush counties.

    Gov. Laura Kelly, ordered U.S. flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings, grounds and facilities from Wednesday until interment in honor of a “dedicated public servant.”

    “I respected and admired his commitment to working with his colleagues in the Legislature to improve the lives of his constituents,” the Democratic governor said. “I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife, Linda, their four children, and all of his friends and loved ones during this difficult time. Leonard will be missed on the House floor, and throughout his district.”

    House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, said Mastroni died at Hays Medical Center after several months battling a health issue.

    “It is unexpected and emotional news for all of us,” Ryckman said. “Leonard has been a steady voice for the 117th District over the past four years, always seeking to represent the best interests of his constituents and western Kansas.”

    House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Republican, said Mastroni was a thoughtful legislator who served with integrity. Democratic Rep. Monica Murnan, of Pittsburg, added: “Leonard Mastroni was a stand-up guy. Big loss.”

    “I send our condolences,” said Wink Hartman, a Wichita businessman who ran for Congress in 2010, governor in 2018 and considered a bid for U.S. Senate in 2020. “He was an advocate for the people of his district and rural Kansas. May his memory be eternal.”

    Mastroni was elected in 1981 as a district court judge and served on the bench for 28 years. He was a Rush County commissioner for six years. In addition, he was a graduate of Fort Hays State University.

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    Tim Carpenter
    Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.