The second round of counted votes again favored sheriff candidate Mitzi Johanknecht in King County.
Johanknecht increased her lead over incumbent John Urquhart. As of Wednesday night, she maintained52 percent of the vote. Sheriff Urquhart lost a point, dropping to 47 percent.
If she wins, Johanknecht will only be the second person in county history to unseat an incumbent sheriff.
Voters, according to Johanknecht, are concerned with public safety. She told KTTH’s Jason Rantz she wants to make sure deputies have the “most current training and tools” to keep themselves and the community safe.
Listen to Rantz’s entire interview with Johanknecht here.
Johanknecht has spoken out against safe injection sites in King County. She says there are “way too many things to resolve” when it comes to how law enforcement interacts with them.
“It’s just not clear how that’s going to happen,” she told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz Wednesday morning. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Seattle and King County and talking about this and seeing where it’s going to go. But nothing has been funded at this point, so we’ll see what happens.”
Urquhart, who retired with a sergeant’s rank, successfully ran for office 2012. He served as a law enforcement officer for more than 41 years, including 29 years with the sheriff’s office.
The Mercer Island resident received numerous endorsements in his bid for re-election this year. However, he began losing some notable endorsers after allegations of sexual assault and an alleged cover-up surfaced. Urquhart has adamantly denied the accusations and even sued a former deputy for defamation. Under Urquhart’s leadership, the sheriff’s office has faced allegations of discrimination and poor management.
Urquhart said the allegations leveled against him are purely political.
Johanknecht, a veteran of 32 years in the sheriff’s office, said “honor and integrity” needs to be restored within the department. She said she didn’t consider running for office until she was encouraged to do so.
“We can do that several ways,” she said during her campaign. “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.”
The King County Sheriff’s Office employs more than 1,000 people. Its deputies serve more than 500,000 people in unincorporated areas of the county as well as a dozen cities it contracts with. It also provides departments for the Muckleshoot Tribe, King County Metro, and the county’s international airport.