O’Connor announces candidacy for Sedgwick County DA

In announcing his Republican candidacy for Sedgwick County District Attorney today, Kevin O’Connor acknowledged that it doesn’t come as a surprise.

“This may be the worst-kept secret, but I’m going to run for district attorney. I’m in,” said O’Connor, who in September said he was strongly considering being a candidate for the position in the 2012 election.

Longtime District Attorney Nola Foulston, a Democrat, has said she will retire in January 2013. The office decides whether charges are filed in incidents investigated by law enforcement. The office handles everything from misdemeanors to death penalty cases and consumer fraud and child custody cases.

O’Connor, a 47-year-old former deputy district attorney in the District Attorney’s Office, said he has 19 years of diverse experience as a prosecutor, including with the District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice and more recently, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, where he is a special assistant attorney general.

O’Connor said he would bring change and leadership to the job, but said he was not ready to discuss specifics.

“It’s not a time now for the same old politics and the same old, same old,” he said. “We now have an opportunity to make real change, and we need a proven prosecutor to lead this office, and my record speaks for itself.

“I have a reputation as a tough but fair prosecutor,” he said, in announcing his candidacy this afternoon across the street from the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

With his wife and four children standing behind him, O’Connor said he considers his biggest priority as being a good husband and father.

“I’m known as a fighter…and I embrace that because I am a fighter, and I’ll fight for you and your family as if it was my own,” O’Connor said.

Before O’Connor spoke, one of his supporters, Terri Brooks, introduced him. O’Connor was one of the prosecutors who handled the case involving Brooks’ daughter, Chelsea, a pregnant 14-year-old who was murdered in 2006.

Brooks said O’Connor “has the heart of a prosecutor… and although he represents the interests of the state, victims and their families are never far from his thoughts.”

Several local elected Republican officials, including county commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau, attended O’Connor’s announcement.

Another Republican, Marc Bennett, a veteran prosecutor in the DA’s Office, has already announced his candidacy for district attorney.

In taking a few questions from reporters about how he would approach the job, O’Connor said: “I’m not talking about kicking everybody out of office.” He added: “There’s a lot of good people in that office, and I recognize who they are.”

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