SNCO DA candidates square off at Washburn Law School

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- With less than two weeks before you cast your vote for the next Shawnee County District Attorney, the three Republicans vying for the position got together to debate the issues.

Assistant Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay, attorney Keen Umbehr, and former prosecutor Karen Wittman answered questions in front of a full crowd at Washburn Law School.

When asked who, if anyone, should be prosecuted in an underage sexting scenario, all three candidates say they believe those situations need to be looked at on a case by case basis, but some level of discipline should take place.

Candidates took a stance on legalizing marijuana, all three oppose it.

Kagay says he has dealt with people who have gotten in trouble with the law then tell him, 'I'm going to move to Colorado where I can do what I want.' Kagay says he responds, "Good, that's the point. If you are going to do that, we don't want you in our community."

When asked if they believe the if the current method of bonding in Shawnee County is fair, the candidates views differed.

Wittman said she likes how Shawnee County has set bond amounts for certain crimes and goes on to say "my only concern is if somebody is sitting in jail a long time, then we need to revisit them," Wittman also questioned, if we can "get a call back on certain crimes?"

Kagay said, "Yes, I do believe it is a fair process. As a prosecutor, I protect the community by asking for a higher bond."

Umbehr completely disagreed, "No, absolutely not fair. I think right now we have rich people stay out and poor people stay in jail."

The candidates came alive during their closing statements.

"The people of Shawnee Co. have to have a DA they can trust," Umbehr said, "they got to know that he's going to pursue justice in a case in and trust that when a case come to trial we will get the conviction. 53% acquittals is almost the worst rate in the state of Kansas, it's a failing grade."

"There are two things that you should demand of your district attorney and one is integrity and the other is respecting the power of that office, not the person in the officer but the power of it and their use of discretion in the use of that power," Wittman said, "I am asking for your vote because I am the most qualified candidate sitting up here."

"Law enforcement knows her, they've known her for a long time," Kagay said, "they know what her reputation is, they know what her integrity is and when they asked us to come out to the FOP and asked us all the hard questions they decided in a unanimous vote to endorse me and to endorse me exclusively."

13 NEWS' Regan Porter gives us a closer look at this trio Monday on 13 NEWS at Ten.

The Kansas Republican Primary Election is Aug. 2. There is no democrat running for DA and incumbent Chad Taylor is not seeking re-election.