Valley Falls native picked for county prosecutor
by Dennis Sharkey
The Jefferson County Republican Central Committee has chosen Jason Belveal as the county’s next prosecutor.
Belveal, a Valley Falls native, was elected last Tuesday, Oct. 11, during the committee’s regular monthly meeting by secret ballot. Belveal was the only candidate nominated.
He lives in Valley Falls with his wife, Carrie, and two children. Carrie is a Valley Falls USD 338 board member and he is employed at the law firm of Tenopir & Huerter in Topeka where he spends much of his time in the courtroom litigating. Belveal joined the firm in 2007.
Current Prosecutor Robert Fox submitted his resignation last month to accept a position as chief litigator for the Kansas Corporation Commission.
The office also lost Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Ney last week. He accepted a position with Kansas Securities Commissioner Aaron Jack’s office as a prosecutor.
Belveal said he plans on retaining Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Knutzen and doesn’t plan on making any immediate staffing changes.
“I have not been in their office so I don’t know what the needs are,” Belveal said. “I need to see what the workload is.”
The current system in Fox’s office has two assistant prosecutors. Belveal said he is unsure whether another assistant will be hired.
Belveal will complete the term of Caleb Stegall, who was elected to the office in November 2008. He resigned in January to become the chief counsel for Gov. Sam Brownback.
Fox was elected by the Republican Central Committee in February and at that time expressed interest in completing the term and running for re-election. Unlike Belveal, Fox maintains his full-time residence in Shawnee County and was not residing in Jefferson County.
After being elected, Belveal said that he would likely seek election to the prosecutor’s position next November.
“Jefferson County is our home and for me the idea of coming back to Jefferson County to be the attorney is a little bit like coming home,” he told the committee before the vote was taken. “To serve friends and neighbors as county attorney is a very exciting proposition for me.”
Belveal was given an opportunity to speak to the committee members after the vote but was short spoken.
“Thank you all for your support,” he said after the vote was tallied. “I look forward to getting to work.”
Committee member Charles Stutesman nominated Belveal and said his commitment to his community is his strongest attribute besides being a good attorney. Stutesman listed Belveal’s time as a Valley Falls city councilman, member of the Valley Falls Economic Development Committee and the Valley Falls Chamber of Commerce as some of his accomplishments. He also has served on the Jefferson County Economic Business Development Committee. He has served as treasurer for the city of Valley Falls as well.
Belveal has a business degree from Emporia State University and a juris doctorate from Washburn University.
He said his current position in Topeka at a private firm has prepared him for a position such as prosecutor. He said his firm is appointed a significant amount of times as public defenders in criminal cases.
“I was very fortunate to get that position I have with the firm,” he said. “We’re in court all day pretty much every day.
“It has afforded me the opportunity to try some high level criminal cases right out of the gate,” he added.
He said primarily he has been involved in felony cases including robbery, rape and homicide.
Fox’s last day in office will be Friday, Oct. 28. A form will be submitted to Brownback’s office that Belveal has been chosen as Fox’s replacement. Brownback will then appoint Belveal to the position.
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