Judge Eric Yost to advise commission as county counselor

Eric Yost
Eric Yost

District Court Judge Eric Yost swore three commissioners into office in January.

Now he’ll be advising commissioners on Sedgwick County’s legal matters.

Sedgwick County commissioners voted Tuesday to appoint Yost as county counselor pending his resignation as a judge.

Yost said he was proud and honored to be selected.

“Sedgwick County is engaged in a lot of litigation. We get sued by people, we sue people,” Yost said. “I’m looking forward to the challenges of it all.”

Yost was first elected to be a judge for the 18th Judicial District in 1996.

“I’ve seen a lot of different aspects of the law,” Yost said. “To apply that experience to the challenges in the county counselor’s office will prove very interesting.”

The county counselor acts as the county commissioners’ attorney, managing litigation against any part of county government.

“My job is to help them,” Yost said. “It’s to provide them with good advice and it’s to provide them with a heads-up about ‘this is what we need to worry about next week.’”

He said the job will be less formal and require a different mindset than that of a judge.

“I’ll be an advocate for the people of Sedgwick County rather than being a judge and trying to be fair and impartial,” Yost said. “I’ll be an advocate for the commission.”

It’s not clear when he will start work as county counselor.

“I’m going to have to wind down what I’m doing as a judge and have those things start being done by other judges,” he said.

The county counselor job had been advertised for several months, acting county manager Ron Holt said.

Longtime county counselor Rich Euson retired in March. Jennifer Magana and Mike Pepoon served in the post in the meantime.

The county considered eight candidates for the job and interviewed four finalists in early August.

Commissioners complimented Yost’s experience and how he fared during interviews. The vote for his appointment was unanimous.

“He is an exceptional candidate for the position and I think he will do extremely well in that position,” commissioner Jim Howell said.

Commissioner Dave Unruh said experience helped Yost stand out among other qualified candidates.

“I think he will do an excellent job,” Unruh said. “I am fully convinced that we will not have a learning curve or trying to get acquainted or learn the territory. Judge Yost will step right in.”

Before Yost was a judge, he was a representative and senator in the Kansas Legislature.

Yost said his salary as a judge was about $120,000. The county counselor makes $139,782 a year, according to the 2016 approved budget.

“If I can provide people with counsel and do a good job with that, I think that I will earn my keep,” Yost said.

Reach Daniel Salazar at 316-269-6791 or dsalazar@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @imdanielsalazar.