Headshot of Candice Alcaraz, projected winner of the Wyandotte County judge election in Division 12
The projected winner of the Wyandotte County judge election in Division 12 is Candice Alcaraz. She will unseat incumbent Wes Griffin, who was first elected in 2008. (Provided photo)

With 100% of precincts reporting, Candice Alcaraz is the unofficial winner of the Wyandotte County District Judge election for Division 12. She beat incumbent Judge Wes Griffin, receiving 68.8% of the countywide vote. This makes her the first Black female district judge in Wyandotte County.

Election results will be unofficial until Wyandotte County certifies the vote.

The Beacon could not contact Alcaraz on election night, but during a conversation with Alcaraz last week, she said she decided to run when she noticed that none of the county’s previous district judges looked like her.

“When you get to the third floor in our courthouse, every judge in our county has their picture on the wall,” she said. “When I first looked up there, I said, ‘This is nice, but nobody up there is like me.’”

As a district judge, she hopes to bring a community-oriented perspective to the courtroom. Whenever possible, she wants to use community service in sentencing so that the judicial system can invest in rehabilitation and crime prevention, rather than focusing on punishment.

In doing so, her goal is to reduce recidivism for those charged with crimes and restore their relationship with their community.

“We need to repair society just as much as we are repairing the victims in our cases,” she said. “When people need to be held accountable, they will be held accountable. But we need to take into account all of the options that are before us.”

Alcaraz said that when she initially decided to run, some colleagues told her she was making a mistake. Sitting judges in Wyandotte County traditionally run unopposed in their elections, and it is frowned upon to challenge an incumbent. But that didn’t stop her.

“I don’t know who the ‘they’ are, but you wait until ‘they’ tell you it’s your time,” she said. “No one is going to tell me when it is my time. I do not believe in that. Because it can be your time whenever you choose it, not someone else.”

David Patrzykont also challenged an incumbent judge, Tony Martinez, in Division 5, but Martinez is the unofficial winner with 100% of precincts reporting. Martinez received 71.8% of the countywide vote.

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Josh Merchant is The Kansas City Beacon's local government reporter. After graduating from Seattle University, Josh attended Columbia Journalism School, earning a master’s degree in investigative journalism....