Dori: Constantine, leftists on King County Council are obsessed with race in sheriff appointment

Apr 12, 2022, 7:37 AM
King County sheriff...
Interim King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall (left), Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble (center), and Atlanta Police Major Reginald Moorman (right).

In a rather distant past, voters locally and nationally excluded a lot of people from politics because of their skin color. Because of their faith. Because of their ethnicity. That was wrong. It was shameful.

Around here, there was a time — way back when — when Black people couldn’t get elected. Over the years, voters have become more open-minded. These days, I don’t think voters care about personal characteristics anymore. Norm Rice was the city’s first Black mayor when he was elected twice in the 1990s. Washington state elected Barack Obama president twice. Seattle voters elected a lesbian for mayor. Before that, they elected a gay man as mayor. They have since elected Seattle’s current mayor, Bruce Harrell, who is Black and Asian.

The most important thing voters seem to care about when choosing a candidate is their politics. Around here, what matters most is if a candidate has a “D” next to their name.

Regretfully, King County voters gave up their right to choose their sheriff at the ballot box in 2020. Now the task belongs to the county executive and council for an appointment – not voter approval.

When former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht’s rocky term ended in late 2021, voters didn’t get to choose her successor. Instead, a national search for the next top cop in the county produced 12 applicants. Seven were interviewed; three moved on as finalists. Each finalist is Black.

My concern is less about the qualifications of the three finalists – though that is an important factor. Instead, my question is a dicey one because it goes up against the leftist orthodoxy in King County: Just as shameful as it was for our country to exclude people of color from positions of leadership years ago, isn’t it equally shameful to exclude white people now?

My sources tell me that at least two applicants who were not granted interviews are white. Both are exceptionally qualified and have equal, if not better, experience and understanding of the local populace, politics, and issues. More than half of law enforcement in the greater Puget Sound area is Caucasian. Does this imply that none of the white applicants was considered?

Fortunately, in Seattle, we have a history of appointed local leaders who either came up through the local ranks or gained significant experience in comparable cities before taking on their next jobs: former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and her successor — current interim chief Adrian Diaz, who has led the Seattle Police Department since late 2020 and is under consideration for the role permanently. Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins was in charge of the Glendale, California force for seven years before moving to Seattle.

But two of the three current finalists for King County Sheriff are not local, and the third has never really been on the streets with the rank-and-file.

Charles Kimble is chief of police in Killeen, Texas, population: 160,000 – smaller than both the city of Tacoma and unincorporated King County by at least 50,000. Kimble does have 30 years of law enforcement experience – much of it in Milwaukee.

Atlanta Police Department Major Reginal Moorman, meanwhile, walked a beat after joining the force there. While rising through the ranks, he was named deputy director of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force – a team of local, state and federal officials in Georgia and both Carolinas. He’s currently the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport section commander. Moorman is also an adjunct criminal justice professor at three colleges.

And current interim sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall, when temporarily appointed to this role last fall, said she didn’t want to be considered for the job permanently. As she came up through local ranks, it was not as a cop but as a special agent with the state Gambling Commission. She later worked for the state’s Employment Security Department, investigating fraud and theft in unemployment benefits. Since then, much of her work since then has been for King County as an investigator and administrator for Community Corrections. Unlike most of her subordinates, Cole-Tindall has never walked a beat.

Crime is the number one issue among everyone listening to my voice in this region. And maybe the police chief in Killeen, Texas, or a major in Atlanta might be the best choice. But I find it hard to imagine that this is automatically a better choice than someone who is experienced and local.

But these finalists are in the hands of leftists in King County government. And executive Dow Constantine and Democrats on the council are obsessed with race. That is why they are excluding a wide swath of people from consideration.

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: Constantine, leftists on King County Council are obsessed with race in sheriff appointment