There are bigger races than the race for King County prosecutor, such as U.S. Senate or Congress, and everyone will want to watch and see how the Trump-backed candidates do.
But in terms of importance, nothing is likely as important as the county prosecutor position. The prosecutor decides who will be indicted or charged. We have trusted Dan Satterberg to make those decisions in King County for the past 15 years. But now Satterberg isn’t running again.
I worked with Satterberg during my 12 years with the county. He was always prepared and felt every person needed a chance to succeed. Prosecutor candidate Leesa Manion has been Satterberg’s chief of staff for 14 years. According to her website, she has spearheaded projects to protect the public, reduce racial disproportionality, strengthen victim services and hold repeat perpetrators accountable. But she has never run for office before and does not think politically.
Her opponent is Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who says on his website that he believes it is time for new leadership, and in a fundraising email, said he believes in second chances but not revolving doors. He says he will bring together local leaders, community organizations and law enforcement. Ferrell has run for election several times.
Both candidates have experience in the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Ferrell worked there for several years before he was elected mayor, but he has been away from the prosecutor’s office for many years now, and has spoken out against the county’s Restorative Community Pathways program. This diversion program was implemented in 2021 for juveniles who enter the criminal justice system.
This job is too important for the public not to take a closer look at the two candidates. I will provide occasional commentary as the race unfolds between now and November, and the race could be close. But the politics are very interesting. Manion, if elected, would be the first woman and person of color to serve in the job, and the prosecutor’s staff are a very bright group that needs someone who knows the answers and can lead them. The next prosecutor needs to know what they are doing.
We learned recently that Ferrell lost access to the Democratic Party’s voter database. According to state party chair Tina Podlodowski, the Washington Democrats suspended his access upon request of King County Democrats pending an investigation into whether any security rules were breached. The issue concerns Ferrell’s possible affiliation with Republican candidates due to his inclusion in a flyer for a PAC fundraiser benefiting Republican elected officials and candidates. The flyer also appears to be an encouragement on how attendees at the 17th Patriot Gathering in Enumclaw should vote and lists several Republican candidates for the Legislature and Congress. It also lists future meetings and locations of the group.
This isn’t the first time that Ferrell’s political party affiliation has been questioned. He started as a Republican, but switched to Democrat several years ago. Both parties guard the voter lists closely.
I had the opportunity to ask Ferrell about the allegations many Democrats raised about the flyer and his candidacy that were hot topics. Ferrell said a city councilmember had mentioned it and suggested a name for him to contact who was well known in the Vietnamese community. Ferrell denied any involvement in the flyer and said as soon as he heard about it, he contacted the group and told them he did not consent to the use of his name. He also made a point of telling me he has been a precinct committee officer (PCO) for over 10 years. And that he is proud to be a Democrat and for the number of police guilds and unions that are supporting him.
Because no one filed to force a primary, it will be Ferrell and Manion until the November election, and they deserve a closer look. If you belong to a group that needs a speaker or would benefit from hearing and seeing both candidates, so you can ask them questions directly, then please invite them to jointly appear throughout the county. Schedule a candidates night. It is a big county full of chambers of commerce, school boards, Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs. The job affects the entire county — Seattle, the Eastside of Lake Washington and South King County. Ask the candidates directly what they have done or tell them what they should do. One of these people will be the next prosecutor. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.