Nov 8, 2022 - News

Leesa Manion leads in King County prosecutor's race

Female candidate speaks in front of a microphone.

Leesa Manion speaks at an event. Photo: Seung Kyu Kim/Courtesy of Manion campaign

Leesa Manion held a strong lead Tuesday night in the race for King County prosecutor, early returns from King County Elections showed.

Driving the news: Results from the initial round of ballot counting showed Manion had 55.26% of the votes over her opponent Jim Ferrell's 44.19%.

Why it matters: Washington state's most populous county hadn't had an open race for prosecutor since 1978, when former King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng was elected.

Background: When Maleng died in 2007, his second in command, Dan Satterberg, was appointed to replace him — and was later elected four times to the office.

  • Manion, Satterberg's chief of staff, is now well-positioned to succeed him — but has been locked in an expensive election battle against Ferrell, a former King County senior deputy prosecutor and current mayor of the city of Federal Way.

Between the lines: After decades of seeing themselves as the people in "white hats," prosecutors now have to contend with conflicting demands from those who want to clamp down on crime and repeat offenders versus those who call for social justice and reform.

State of play: The candidates differed in how they said they would tackle a rise in violent crime, with Manion promoting community-based diversion programs and Ferrell pushing for more criminal prosecutions.

  • Manion said Ferrell's approach was outdated and doesn't build on criminal justice reforms.
  • Ferrell argued the state's new juvenile diversion programs are not suited for crimes such as robbery and felony assault — offenses he said need to be filed in court.

The intrigue: Both candidates identified as Democrats, yet the state Democratic Party supported Manion.

  • Ferrell got the nod from several police unions, including the Seattle Police Officers Guild, the King County Police Officers Guild and the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.

Of note: If Tuesday's results hold, Manion would be the first woman and person of color to ever serve as King County prosecutor.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

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