District Attorney Race Starts Unexpectedly

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Monday, September 12, 2011

The race for Sedgwick County's top prosecutor job got an unexpected start Friday when Deputy District Attorney Marc Bennett filed to run for the position held by Nola Foulston since 1988.

Bennett told KAKE News Monday that he has reached a point in his career that he wants to make a decision to stand on his own two feet and take the next step.

Foulston has held the position since being first elected in 1988. The move is clearly fueling speculation as to whether Foulston herself will voluntarily step down when her term expires.

"I don't think that a wholesale change or some sort of monumental shift is required," Bennett said. "It's a good office. We've had a great deal of success. That being said, no office can stand still."

But someone who could not disagree more is former Deputy D. A. Kevin O'Connor, who resigned from Foulston's office in 2009 citing fundamental differences.

"I believe that my leaving that district attorney's office, even though I haven't gotten into specific reasons about it, I think my leaving speaks volumes," O'Connor explained.

Although he doesn't consider himself a candidate at this point, O'Connor believes the office has had problems over the last few years.

"This office is a very, very important office and it needs to have fundamental change," he said. "The only way we're going to have the change that needs to happen in that office is to have a dynamic, forceful personality; A dynamic, forceful leader and a person of action. And I'm uniquely qualified."

Bennett claims he is also just as qualified and that Foulston has run a respectful office.

"I think that the idea that someone needs to come in and sack everything that's happened so far may sound like a nice sound byte, but in reality, that's not a very realistic view of this race," Bennett said.

O'Connor, meanwhile, said he will officially enter the race on his own timetable if and when it's right for him and his family. He currently has contractual obligations with the Butler County Attorney and the Kansas Attorney General's office.

As for Foulston, she did not return calls for comment Monday. Instead, she spoke through her assistant, saying she expects to make a decision whether or not to run in the race sometime very soon.

Both Bennett and O'Connor are Republicans. Foulston is a Democrat.

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