Dori: King Co. Prosecutor candidate says crime at ‘crisis levels,’ opponent is ‘elitist’
In a race where many voters are critical of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a “catch-and-release” stage in the local criminal justice system, Federal Way Mayor and former King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jim Ferrell wants a “reset.”
His race against Leesa Manion, outgoing Prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s chief of staff, is one that will have to deal with a soaring rise in crime – including a 70% spike in shooting cases.
“The situation has reached crisis levels,” Ferrell told Tuesday’s Dori Monson Show listeners. “King County is at a tipping point. A lot of people think we’re long past the tipping point. Not only is the King County jail down 100 officers from pre-COVID staffing, but police staffing countywide is critically low,” Ferrell said. It’s created a “literal catch-and-release that has to get addressed” because the “people of our community have really been victimized.”
Part of his plan, if elected, is to tackle the “crippling backlog of 4,500 felony cases” facing the prosecutor’s office. “That has to be addressed on Day 1. I’ve got an aggressive triage plan to get those cases through.”
Whoever is elected will become “the hinge-point to the entire criminal justice system,” he explained.
Ferrell – who spent 16 years as a trial attorney in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before being elected for three terms as Federal Way mayor – also intends to make “sure that the jails are fully staffed.”
His hands-on trial experience, he told Dori, is a far better fit for the job than Manion’s administrative experience – which includes only one criminal trial during her career. While Manion’s work during Satterberg’s progressive tenure has been in budgeting and human relations, she was key in developing the county’s earliest youth diversion program, which prevented minors from facing misdemeanor criminal charges if they agreed to attend a four-hour workshop.
Ferrell cited his endorsements include police guilds of King County, Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Federal Way, and Des Moines; mayors of 15 suburban cities; several labor unions; The Seattle Times editorial board; and long-time senior prosecutors in the office.
Dori asked Ferrell whether voters should take stock in the flap that has arisen between his opponent and trial attorneys in the prosecutor’s office.
It started with a comment made before a recent voters’ forum, when Manion discounted her lack of criminal trial experience, comparing herself to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos because he “doesn’t put the labels on the boxes or drive the trucks.”
The comparison created an uproar among some prosecutors, at least one of whom wrote that Manion’s comments undermined their work and did “significant harm to our cause.”
Ferrell called her comments “elitist” for someone who has “never tried a criminal case, never handled one criminal trial or filed a case or ever had a caseload.
“She’s really out of touch,” Ferrell added.
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