Both candidates for King County prosecutor — Leesa Manion and Jim Ferrell — want a crime-free county.
Manion’s support comes from people who care about the root causes of crime, which is similar to current prosecutor Dan Satterberg and his focus. Satterberg was way ahead of his time in trying to look for options for society. Manion has served as Satterberg’s chief of staff for 15 years. They have supported the Restorative Pathways Program, which Ferrell still opposes.
Ferrell’s endorsements from suburban mayors and their police departments are expected to appeal to more conservative views. Ferrell is also critical of Manion as the only candidate in the race who has never tried a case.
But that is not Manion’s job to try cases. Her job is to run the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and assign cases to qualified prosecutors. Ferrell also attacks Manion for the 5,000-case backlog, but as Manion points out, during the pandemic, the Washington Supreme Court issued orders that closed the courts. After their mandate, which the court felt would save lives, prosecutors under Manion’s direction pivoted to video hearings and kept working. Manion was able to secure $14 million in COVID relief funds to help hire 120 new positions, including 10 new victims’ advocates.
Ferrell calls the backlog “unacceptable.” Ferrell would work with the executive and council to allocate funds to have pro-tem judges to remedy speedy trial concerns. Manion has captured most Democratic legislative districts along with endorsements former Gov. Gary Locke and King County Executive Dow Constantine. A flyer that was sent to support Republican candidates included Ferrell’s name and caused him to lose use of the Democratic database this past summer.
Current prosecutor Satterberg is a great source on the inner workings of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and he said: “No one understands the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office better than Leesa, not only how it operates, but the potential for what it can be. She can be a visionary for the future of the office, and is uniquely positioned to help the amazing team of professionals she leads every day– and the people we serve – through challenging times.”
Manion oversees a workforce of 600 employees with an annual budget of $80 million. Ferrell has been away from the KC Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for several years, although the employee count and budget are similar to the city of Federal Way.
There is a lot of history in the prosecutor’s office, and much of it is linked to Norm Maleng, who died in 2007 after serving 28 years in the position. The Maleng family is supporting Manion, who would be the first female and person of color to hold the job. She is likely the most prepared candidate.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.