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With 27 years of first-hand experience, Leesa Manion would be first woman and person of color to serve as King County Prosecutor

(Image: Leesa Manion for Prosecutor)

By Elizabeth Turnbull

Leesa Manion, vying to replace her boss Dan Satterberg as King County Prosecutor, sees herself as a “yes and…” thinker, someone who is community-involved and who has valuable experience needed for the position after being with the prosecuting office for 27 years.

“I like to identify common ground and build from there,” Manion, who has served as chief of staff in the prosecutor’s office for 15 years, said in an interview with CHS.

“I’m committed to building new relationships and working collaboratively with law enforcement and our community to ensure that all our communities are safe.”

For the last 15 years, Manion has worked as the chief of staff of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She first entered the office in 1995 as a Rule 9 Legal Intern after graduating from Seattle University School of Law.

Manion was born in Seoul, South Korea to a Korean mother and white father. In the event that she assumes the office, she will become the first woman and person of color to serve as the King County Prosecutor.

CHS spoke previously with another challenger for the prosecutor’s office. Seattle University law teacher Stephan Thomas would be the first Black person to lead the office. King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell are also lined up in the race and vying to be one of the top two candidates to emerge from the August primary.

Manion has received endorsements from King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmembers Claudia Balducci, Sarah Perry, and former County Councilmember Larry Gossett. Former Seattle Police Captains Tag Gleason, Les Liggins, and retired Judge Michael Spearman of the Washington State Court of Appeals have also endorsed Manion.

Manion has highlighted her community involvement as something that sets her apart and as something she believes will help her in connecting with residents in Capitol Hill and the Central District.

“I think Dan [Satterburg] can be sometimes more of an introverted leader and I’m happy to be more out in community,” Manion said. “…I’ve been meeting with individual business owners in Pioneer Square, Sodo district and also West Seattle… and I’m committed to doing that also in Capitol Hill and in the Central district. I think that there are business owners and residents who want to feel safe in their community, they want to know that their elected leaders are paying attention.”

Responding to criticism surrounding the prosecuting attorney’s office’s handling of crime that has resulted in repeat offenders, few long-term solutions and a “revolving-door” of offenses, Manion sees a multi-faceted approach as the solution.

This looks like helping people who are stealing to feed themselves or who are struggling with a mental illness or addiction and also accumulating data to crack down on organized crime and systematic attacks on businesses, Manion says.

“I think that the people in King County are really compassionate, and I believe that the compassion has been tested,” Manioni said. “What accountability looks like for those two distinct populations is different.”

Manion is also focused on young people who are impacted by the criminal justice system. In 2011, she supported community leaders in building an organization, now known as Choose 180—which connects youth to community members and resources to keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Manion also says she is one of the “key stakeholders” in launching King County’s Family Intervention and Restorative Services or “FIRS” program, which provides an overnight space for teens arrested in family violence incidents, in addition to other services.

In her vision of the King County Prosecutor’s office, Manion says that all cases that involve young people under the age of 18 will be handled by the Juvenile Division, even if they have been charged as adults.

“There is nothing special about a judge or a prosecutor who has no relationship with that young person, waving a finger and saying, “Do better make a different choice,” Manion said. “…for many young people, with the right access to role models, the right access to services, the right access to caring community members, they have the ability to turn their lives around.”

In addition to focusing on youth in the justice system and public safety, Manion has listed gun violence, victim services and maintaining public trust as the main priorities of her campaign. Manion positively referenced other programs such as the county’s “Shots Fired” Project, which she helped secure funding for, and the practice of identifying at-risk youth for intervention.

Since 2015, she has served on the board of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and she has supported various laws with some restricting access to firearms and expanding background checks. In reference to victims services, Manion helped secure funding for the Director of Victim Services position in the Attorney’s office and she has cited the importance of understanding what healing looks like depending on the situation and the victim’s needs.

In regards to maintaining public trust, Manion has emphasized principles such as transparency, professional integrity and community engagement as points of focus.

Manion says she’s running for the chance to continue her work, to focus on public safety and to make the office a better place for her colleagues.

“I believe there’s more work that needs to be done and I don’t want the work to slow or to stop,” Manion said. “I’m also running because I care about building a safe community in all parts of King County and I know that the citizens of King County are looking for that kind of leadership.”

Learn more at leesamanion.com.

 

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Born Here
Born Here
9 months ago

I did not see “stop the catch and release policies that filled Seattle with repeat felons” anywhere in this platform.

Is Seattle U Law the biggest source of progressive activists trying to get the rest of Seattle exposed to regular crime? Sure seems like it sometimes.

C_Kathes
C_Kathes
9 months ago
Reply to  Born Here

That’s because there is no such policy. But most people arrested in the U.S. are entitled to bail, like it or not.

Caphiller
Caphiller
9 months ago

What a wet noodle of a platform. Just a bunch of platitudes about “community” and “relationships”. I didn’t get any signals that she would actually prosecute someone who commits a crime.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
9 months ago
Reply to  Caphiller

*Morpheus puts on sunglasses*

What if I told you that fining and jailing people wasn’t the only way to deal with crime?

Born Here
Born Here
9 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

We’ve stopped using jail. And crime is spiking upward. Could it be these are related?

Somewhere out there
Somewhere out there
8 months ago
Reply to  Born Here

Of course! We have people committing crimes now that wouldn’t because the fear of jail.