Letters: Responding to Roegner about city’s judge selection

Responding to Roegner: The facts always matter

In a recent column from Bob Roegner titled “A closer look at the selection of Federal Way’s new judge,” columnist and former Auburn Mayor Bob Roegner attempted to compare the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court to the appointment of Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Brad Bales. While both jurists are accepting in their own right, the two situations hardly compare.

Mr. Roegner criticizes the City of Federal Way for not recruiting minority applicants to the vacancy created when Judge Rebecca Robertson resigned. However, that is false. When the judge vacancy occurred, Mayor Ferrell and Presiding Judge Dave Larson agreed to have the Municipal Court work with Human Resources and take the lead on the recruitment process. Judge Larson personally called Defense Attorney Todd Howard and asked him to apply for the position. Mr. Roegner fails to mention Mr. Howard is a prominent Black attorney in South King County. While Mr. Howard declined to apply, he did graciously agree to serve on the selection panel.

In all, the selection panel consisted of three female elected officials, an African American attorney, an African American community leader, a local business owner, a retired judge, and Federal Way’s HR manager, who herself is of the Japanese diaspora. I would also note that the judge vacancy was advertised in the Washington Bar Association, and in all the areas government jobs a routinely advertised. Moving forward, Mayor Ferrell has already given his commitment that he would reach out to many more stakeholder when high level vacancies occur.

Judge Brad Bales was the unanimous choice of the selection panel and received a super majority vote during his confirmation. He is a brilliantly qualified judge, who served for more than 20 years as a JAG Officer in the U.S. Army, military judge, and defense attorney.

Mr. Roegner also suggests the African American Quarterly Meetings were constructed for some sort of political gain. That is a seriously misguided and unfortunate accusation which demeans and diminishes the work of so many in Federal Way who continually work to bring important issues like access to services, equality, and social justice to their city leaders.

I admire Mr. Roegner and appreciate the work he does not only in his columns, but during his long and distinguished career. This time, he got it wrong and as the title says, the facts always matter.

Steve McNey

Intergovernmental and Public Affairs Officer, City of Federal Way