Lisa Beran, an attorney from Claflin, defeated Barton County Attorney Levi Morris to secure the Republican nomination for the 20th Judicial District Division 3 District Court Judge seat in Tuesday’s primary, according to preliminary unofficial results.
Steve Johnson (R-Great Bend) was unopposed for the Division 2 District Court Judge seat in the primary.
As of press time Tuesday night, with 81 of 131 precincts, or 62% reporting, Beran carried 56.8% of the vote, or 4,322 votes, with Morris carrying 43.2%, or 3,282 votes.
Beran will move on to the general election in November, where she will run unopposed, with no Democratic candidates having filed for the seat.
Unofficially in Barton County, with 5,056 votes cast, Beran received 2,823 votes, or 55.8%, while Morris received 2,233 votes, or 44.2%.
“I appreciate the support,” Beran said. “I will certainly do my best to be a fair administrator of justice for the 20th Judicial District.”
The 20th Judicial District encompasses Barton, Stafford, Rice, Ellsworth and Russell counties. It consists of three District Court judges and four District Magistrate Judges. Morris and Beran were contesting the seat which is being vacated by Chief Judge Mike Keeley, who announced in February he will be retiring effective at the end of the year.
Morris has served as the Barton County Attorney since being appointed to the seat in December 2018 following the resignation of previous County Attorney Amy Mellor. Prior to that, he worked in for the Barton County Attorney’s Office from 2013-2015, and as a private practice attorney in Lyons and Great Bend.
Beran has been a private practice attorney in Barton County for 33 years.
Vacant Barton County Attorney Office
After Tuesday, Morris said his focus is now on the future, and what is next for him, with his term as Barton County Attorney expiring in January.
Because there were no filings the Barton County Attorney position Morris is vacating, Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said the position will be listed as a write-in position on the November ballot, unless an individual files a petition to the County Clerk’s office containing signatures of no less than 5% of Barton County registered voters.
Outside of that event, which Zimmerman considers unlikely, should a write-in candidate win at that time, he or she would be given the opportunity to accept or decline the position, provided that individual met qualifications to hold the office. This includes being a regularly qualified practicing attorney licensed and admitted to practice law in the State of Kansas.
In the event no write-in candidate wins in November, or the winner declines or does not meet office qualifications, in January 2021 members of the Barton County Republican Committee will nominate an individual to be sent to the governor for appointment to the office.