Candice Alcaraz is running for Wyandotte County District Court judge, and if she wins, she’ll be the first Black woman judge in the county.
Originally from Chicago, Alcaraz received her undergraduate degree from Truman State University, then attended law school at Washburn University. After graduating with her Juris Doctor degree (JD) in 2016, she moved to Wyandotte County where she has been working in the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecution attorney.
On the ballot in August, you’ll see Alcaraz under Division 12. Alcaraz would be running against Judge Wesley Griffin, but he has not yet announced retirement and has not yet filed for re-election. Deadline to file is June 1.
We sat down with Alcaraz to hear what she wants to bring to the table as judge:
The Voice: Why did you decide to run for judge?
Alcaraz: When I started in the DA’s office, I realized that I was one of the few African-American female attorneys in the building. There’s a hallway in the courthouse with all of the judges’ pictures and I would just look up there every day and I didn’t see anybody who looked like me. I felt like I didn’t have someone, like me, that I could go to for mentorship.
I also grew tired of some of the ways in the courtroom and I decided I can do this better. We allow judges to run for office and that’s what I’m going to do.
The Voice: Tell us about your platforms.
Alcaraz: I want to use a restorative justice approach because not everyone in our community that commits crimes are murderers, rapists or things of that nature. A lot of them are going to be coming right back into our community. If we don’t look for alternative ways in dealing with them, they’re just going to keep coming back into the courtroom, a lot of times, with even more serious problems.
I also want to see recidivism go down in Wyandotte County and a change in how we treat the less fortunate. When I first worked in the juvenile unit, we used to allow juveniles to do community service hours to pay off some of the fees they couldn’t afford. That’s something that I would be interested in doing at the adult level.
The Voice: How will your experience in the DA’s office help in your position as a judge?
Alcaraz: My greatest advantage was starting in the juvenile offender unit, where I was able to take a hands-on approach with cases. It showed me how to take in all the information and look at the totality of the circumstances to make a good decision. As a judge, that’s what I will be doing as well. Not only taking in what’s in front of me, but also looking at other options available in the community for the individual.
I want to give them other options besides telling them don’t get in trouble, take your pee test. There are other options to keep them moving positively through the system and back into society. Options like going to certain classes, community service, and connecting them to resources like housing and employment. I want to offer that to a person instead of just letting them figure it out on their own. Some people don’t even know where to start. If you don’t give them a fighting chance, they’ll be right back in front of you.
The Voice: What kind of qualities will you have as a judge?
Alcaraz: I want to be a judge that’s of the people. If you don’t come to the courthouse, you really don’t know who’s up there. I don’t want to be somebody that just gets into a high position where I’m affecting people’s lives and you never see or hear from me. I want to be involved in the legal community, but also the actual Wyandotte County community.
I will be a good judge for everyone. I want to hear from you and I want to be a judge that talks to you. I will take cases seriously and consider everything about it, so that you don’t feel you’re just another name on my desk or another box checked off.
The Voice: What are some of your feelings now that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed as the first Black female high court justice?
Alcaraz: It was absolutely beautiful to see this moment in history. It took 232 years to finally get one. But it was worth it to have her in this moment to show the way.
It’s kind of how I feel about being here in Wyandotte County. I would be the first Black female judge in this county and that means a lot to me. I would carry that with me on my back the same way I do my position in the prosecutor’s office. I take my work very seriously. Probably my advantage and disadvantage in life is that I am an extremely hard worker.
Today, I had a case where something clicked in my mind at 3 a.m. and I could not rest. I got up and started doing research to make sure I was prepared. That’s the kind of work ethic I’m ready to bring to the bench and I’m sure that’s the kind of work ethic Judge Jackson has.
Her confirmation makes me feel a great sense of pride, but also a great sense of responsibility. I’m sure there’s going to be adversity that comes her way and I’m sure if I win this election, I will be feeling some of those same things. But you carry with yourself the same respect that you always have in your position and you’ll be fine.
There will be a “Volunteer for Candice” event on April 22 for those interested in meeting Candice and volunteering for her campaign. Visit her Facebook page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/candiceforjudge.