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TOPEKA—The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission has sent the names of five nominees for two district judge positions to Gov. Laura Kelly, who has 60 days to decide who will fill the vacancies.

The district judge vacancies are due to two retirements. Judge David Debenham will retire June 14 and Judge Nancy Parrish June 24.

The 3rd Judicial District is Shawnee County. 

The nominees are:  

  • Athena Andaya, Topeka, administrative law judge, Kansas Office of Administrative Hearings

  • Jay Befort, Topeka, general counsel, Kansas Department of Revenue

  • Todd Thornburg, Topeka, deputy chief counsel, Kansas Department of Labor

  • Brett Watson, Topeka, chief deputy district attorney, Shawnee County

  • Maban Wright, chief public defender, 3rd Judicial District Defender’s Office

 Eligibility requirements  

Nominees for district judge must be:  

  • at least 30 years old;  

  • a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least five years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school; and  

  • a resident of the 3rd Judicial District at the time of taking office and while holding office.  

Term of office  

After serving one year in office, the new judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term.  

Nominating commission  

The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Justice Caleb Stegall as the nonvoting chair; Toby McCullough, Rossville; and Whitney Casement, Thomas Lemon, Randall Phillips, Rebecca Sanders, and Eric Stafford, Topeka.

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