Meet Candice Alcaraz: Wyandotte County’s First Black Female District Court Judge
At just 32 years old, Candice Alcaraz is already making history. Alcaraz was sworn in on Monday as the first ever Black female district court judge in Wyandotte County, KS.
She fought a good fight during her campaign and beat out incumbent Judge Wes Griffin, receiving 68.8% of the countywide vote in November, according to The Kansas City Beacon. Alcaraz decided to run after noticing that none of the county’s district judges before her looked like her. She remembered going to the third floor of the courthouse and seeing all the judges’ photos. “When I first looked up there, I said, ‘This is nice, but nobody up there is like me.'”
In a county where the judge says the “criminal justice system is mostly white and run by a set of unwritten rules,” she thanked the people she met by going old school and knocking on doors. Alcaraz told KCUR many of them said they had never been approached by a judge running for office.
The former assistant district attorney left her role last week and will begin her historic new role today. Her goal with becoming a judge was to give the courtroom a “more community-oriented perspective” and use community service for sentencing. She is hoping that, in doing so, the judicial system can build on rehabilitation and crime prevention over focusing on punishment, telling The Beacon, “We need to repair society just as much as we are repairing the victims in our cases.”
Being ready for duty, Alcaraz is reminded of the colleagues who told her running was a mistake. They advised her that it’s frowned upon to challenge an incumbent, and sitting judges usually run unopposed in their elections.
“No one is going to tell me when it is my time,” Alcaraz said. “I do not believe in that. Because it can be your time whenever you choose it, not someone else.”