King County prosecutor race is the one to watch | Roegner

The race to replace retiring Dan Satterberg as King County prosecutor is one to watch closely.

It started off with four candidates, and now we are down to two. However, the filing period is in May, so we could still have more candidates join the field.

One candidate is Leesa Manion, who currently runs the King County Prosecutor’s Office as chief of staff while overseeing nearly 600 employees and a budget of $80 million. She is credited with spearheading projects aimed at protecting public safety, reducing racial disproportionality, and securing funding for a director while strengthening support for victim services with 10 additional staff people and funding for the “shots fired project. She is co-founder of the Choose 180 program, and has directed the launching of a high school internship program to help build future diversity. Manion is leading the first review of the “three strikes” cases program and has implemented another program to help with family intervention and domestic violence. She would be the first female and person of color to hold the job if elected.

Another candidate is Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who used to work in the prosecutor’s office before running for the Federal Way City Council, then leading the effort to switch to a strong mayor form of government and later being elected to that position. He believes that a change in direction is needed in the King County Prosecutor’s Office and that the status quo is not an option.

The third candidate was Stephan Thomas, who has actually lived the life of a gang member. But the rumors of him potentially dropping out have turned out to be more than rumors. A fourth candidate, King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, looked at the race and decided it wasn’t for him.

The candidates are working hard to raise money and make contacts with people who can influence voters. Satterberg was chief of staff when former prosecutor Norm Maleng passed away and Satterberg was named as his replacement.

Ferrell has been eyeing the prosecutor’s job since rumors that Satterberg might not run again circulated several months ago. Ferrell has the endorsement of several South King County mayors including Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone, Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier, Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner and Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, along with several police guilds, including Seattle, Kent, Auburn and Federal Way. He also has the endorsement of Bellevue City Councilmember Jennifer Robertson as well as the endorsement of current Federal Way City Councilmembers Linda Kochmar and Jack Dovey, along with former Councilmember Greg Baruso.

Ferrell has made adding police positions a priority, but seems less interested in diversion programs that work to keep people from returning to jail. He has raised $78,466 toward his campaign and his kick-off breakfast is scheduled in Bellevue to increase his name identification on the Eastside.

Manion has been chief of staff in the prosecutor’s office for the last 15 years. She is endorsed by former Gov. Gary Locke and King County Executive Dow Constantine as well as King County Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and Sarah Perry and King County Assessor John Wilson. She has also been endorsed by Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson and Shoreline Mayor Keith Scully. Other endorsements include Luckisha Phillips from the Federal Way School Board, and former Federal Way Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and Judy and Mark Maleng and along with former prosecutor Chris Bayley. Manion has raised $65,387. Both Manion and Ferrell are endorsed by several retired judges.

Thomas is a Seattle University law teacher and was endorsed by Joe Nguyen, who previously ran for King County Executive. He wants to end gun violence (as do all the all the candidates), end cash bail and end treating kids like adults. He had raised $46,000. Manion and Thomas had received dual endorsements from 30th District State Representatives Jesse Johnson and Jamila Taylor. With Thomas now out of the race, those will become sole endorsements.

We could still have other candidates file. There have already been several interesting twists and turns in this race and they may be continuing. This will be an interesting race and is worth following.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact