Both candidates for Sedgwick County district attorney said Monday night that the office that has grown stagnant in recent years, and each promised that if elected he would bring new energy to the office.
Former Deputy District Attorney Kevin OConnor said judges, defense lawyers and law enforcement officers have told him about criminal cases that have languished because prosecutors have failed to make it a priority to move them through the system.
There is a general air of complacency in that office, he said. Its hard to get things done. Phone calls are not returned. Were not talking capital murder cases. Were talking run-of-the mill cases. Were talking cases that have been continued 45 times.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Bennett also said some complacency has crept into the administration, which has been in place since Ronald Reagan was president.
People get complacent with the status quo, Bennett said. I think a new person in that office will bring new energy to that office, and Im willing to hit the ground running.
OConnor and Bennett, the only candidates seeking to replace outgoing District Attorney Nola Foulston, are facing each other in the Aug. 7 Republican primary.
Their comments were made at a forum for district attorney and district judge candidates that was sponsored by the Wichita Women Attorneys Association. More than 100 people, including several incumbent judges who are not facing opposition in this years elections, attended the forum at Wichita State Universitys Hughes Metropolitan Complex.
The 13 judicial candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves and one minute to explain why they were running for office. They each answered a question dealing with such topics as judicial temperament and factors that voters should consider when electing a judge.
When given a minute to explain why they were running, Bennett and OConnor both said they were driven to be prosecutors.
Bennett said that when he told his wife he was going to run for district attorney, she asked him why he didnt instead run for judge.
I said I wasnt ready to quit, he said. This is the greatest job Ive ever had.
OConnor said he couldnt imagine working in any other job.
Its all I ever wanted to be, he said. I went to law school to be a prosecutor.