Fortney: ‘I shouldn’t have to defend that garbage’ dished by Sheriff-elect Johnson

Nov 14, 2023, 2:06 PM | Updated: 2:58 pm

fortney snohomish county sheriff...

From left, Carmen Best, Adam Fortney, Stephanie Mora, Jason Rantz at the 2023 KTTH Freedom Series. (Photo: Kristina Mitchell)

(Photo: Kristina Mitchell)

Adam Fortney lost his re-election bid for Snohomish County Sheriff to Susanna Johnson, a 30-year department veteran, last week.

Disappointed with the results, Fortney took to Facebook to air his grievances, accusing Johnson of character assassination.

“The saddest thing to me about this entire year is that my opponent won this race by convincing enough of our public that I am a racist,” Fortney wrote in a Facebook post.

More on Snohomish County Sheriff Election: Susanna Johnson declares victory over Adam Fortney

“It’s hard to overcome, the negative,” Fortney told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH 770 AM. “Both what the campaign from my opponent was putting out combined with what seemingly was cooperation from the media. I don’t know how you overcome something like that. I ran what I would consider a positive campaign. I felt like I was talking about the issues, which I think most people want us to do. But this dirty stuff works.”

Fortney spent 24 years with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, working patrol, K9 and SWAT. He was promoted to sergeant in 2014. He served one term as sheriff, first sworn in on Dec. 30, 2019.

“Let’s get specific,” host Jason Rantz said. “Let’s talk about what was claimed so we can clear the air and clear the record.”

“I don’t think I should have to clear the air,” Fortney responded. “I heard the words come out of her mouth: Proud Boy this. Proud Boy that. The Democrat Party did something on (X, formerly known as Twitter) that said, ‘Sheriff Fortney is tied to white supremacy.’

“They’ve gotten nothing other than those words, and they knew it,” Fortney continued. “This was their campaign from the get-go. They spent a year doing it. But, like I said, enough people bought it. I shouldn’t have to defend myself from that garbage.”

Fortney was the subject of a failed recall effort in 2021 that began after he questioned the constitutionality of Gov. Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home order in 2020, and said he would not enforce it. Ultimately, the recall effort against him failed in because there were not enough signatures on the petition for a recall vote.

More on Fortney’s recall: Snohomish County Sheriff says recall effort against him is over

“I’m not a super political guy,” Fortney said. “And that didn’t help me in this campaign this year, that’s for sure. I kind of come from a perspective, I wish more real people would run for office.”

Despite not defining himself as a politically-influenced county employee, Fortney realized the race for sheriff had become very partisan.

“I think I got this conservative tag on me, which I do lean conservative. I’ve never shied away from that,” Fortney told Rantz. “But I don’t think that’s reflective in anything I brought to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office at all because public safety has to be for everybody. I think they are super political there. I think that’s the reason why they saw me as someone who might not be aligned with all of their views.”

Fortney and Johnson worked within the same department for more than 20 years, stating he had a lot of respect for her and her work at one time. But after her campaign for sheriff concluded, Fortney said he can’t respect her anymore.

“I know my opponent, Jason. I know her really well,” Fortney said. “I worked around her for a couple decades in the office. When I started this campaign, I didn’t want her to run. I’ll be honest about that. But, as negative as this got, I guess you could say now with hindsight, but I didn’t see that coming. I had respect for her as a law enforcement professional, I can’t say that anymore.”

“You and I talk a lot, both on air and off air, and I’ve never heard you once say anything mean-spirited about her,” Rantz added.

During his time as sheriff, Fortney launched America’s Promise Project, an initiative created to foster honest conversations about race and policing between Black residents and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputies. “Cops and Barbers” was created from this initiative. Fortney also consistently organized and led graffiti cleanups, trail cleanups and patrol operations targeting crime in these areas, especially near Highway 99 and Airport Road.

More from Jason Rantz: Port of Seattle puts tampons in men’s bathrooms, even before the women’s

“Do you regret running?” Rantz asked.

No, not at all,” Fortney answered. “We needed a change back in 2019. We were on a very rough course. As far as the direction of public safety in Snohomish County, in my opinion, I’ve been able to write that course.”

There are more than 100 current openings for jobs at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office — the majority being positions at the county jail.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Fortney: ‘I shouldn’t have to defend that garbage’ dished by Sheriff-elect Johnson