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If elected, King County Sheriff challenger will uphold drug laws

Mitzi Johanknecht is challenging King County Sheriff John Urquhart in the 2017 election. (Courtesy of Mitzi for Sheriff)

With the initiative on safe injection sites taken off the ballot by a King County judge, there may be another option for those who would have voted against them.

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The challenger this year in the race for the Office of King County Sheriff says she opposes the idea of legal injection sites and will uphold the law regarding illegal drugs if elected.

Major Mitzi Johanknecht with the King County Sheriff’s Department told KTTH’s Todd Herman that while she supports the idea that people should vote on the proposed injection sites, she believes they will make things more dangerous for law enforcement and the general public.

“It’s risky business,” she said of dealing with drug dealers. “Creates a public safety hazard for the community and our officers, our deputies, our detectives who work to deter drug expansion and sales.”

She says it’s her firm intention to enforce all laws regarding drugs.

Johanknecht is running against incumbent Sheriff John Urquhart. He said that safe injection sites aren’t a good idea and that he personally doesn’t support allowing people to use heroin. But he also says there are no alternatives.

“I work at 3rd and James, people are dying in doorways and in alleys,” he previously said. “We have no other alternative. Yes, they are a bad idea. You think they are a bad idea, I think they are a bad idea, but we have no other alternative to save lives. That’s what I’ve said all along.”

Earlier this month, a lawsuit successfully blocked an initiative that would have allowed the public to vote on injection sites in King County. The county’s Superior Court stated that “I-27 in its entirety extends beyond the scope of the local initiative power.” I-27 received nearly 70,000 signatures to get on the February ballot.

The man who spearheaded the I-27 effort said the group behind it will appeal the court’s decision.

Though she takes a strong stance on injection sites, Johanknecht says her top issue is the treatment of women.

“I believe we need to restore some honor and integrity to the office of the sheriff,” she previously said. “We can do that several ways. One is bringing in good, effective, modern leadership and procedures and also to make sure we are building trust with our community members … I don’t think that’s being done right now.”

Johanknecht went so far as to say that the “same practices” that have led to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein are happening in law enforcement in the county.

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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