As you fill out your ballot, please vote for Leesa Manion for King County Prosecutor. This race is an opportunity for voters to directly inform the priorities of our county’s criminal legal system. By voting for Leesa Manion for King County Prosecutor, we would be electing a leader who has a vision for a legal system that not only competently prosecutes crime, but that also reduces racial inequity, strengthens victim services, and invests in proven programs that reduce recidivism among youth rather than entrench them in punitive systems that do far more harm than good.
In other words, Manion has a vision for upholding public safety in its truest form; not just in the reductionist sense that is often emphasized by those who advocate for jailing and prosecuting alone.
Manion’s vision and her ability to pursue it are clear, and this has earned her endorsements from former Governor Locke, the King County Democrats, a full ledger of community leaders, plus labor, public safety, and education groups. Her track record of service alongside her incredible story as a member of the King County community will serve her well for the work ahead.
The person we elect for an office like the King County Prosecutor can and will directly affect the justice outcomes that we see in our community, which is why it is so important that we take the time to fill out the bubble next to Manion’s name before dropping our ballots in our local drop box or in the mail—no stamp needed!
Leesa Manion has helped usher in programs that help youth learn from and acknowledge their mistakes, repair harm to the community, and understand that they have more human worth than the sum of their missteps. Since 2016, King County has nearly halved the number of young people held in secure detention, and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office has reduced filings against children 17 and younger by 73%. This reduction in filings is largely due to diverting low-level and first-time offenses to more effective interventions than the courtroom and the jail cell. These strategies prove that the “old way” of handling youthful offenses doesn’t work.
Despite data that these approaches work better than incarceration, and contrary to the experience and wisdom of our community, Manion’s opponent in this race has campaigned against these programs. As The Stranger Election Control Board notes in its endorsement for Manion, her opponent prefers a return to the failed policies of incarceration for drug crimes that do little other than make it more likely that an individual will reoffend rather than recover and transition into pro-social opportunities.
There is still a lot of work to be done, especially to tackle the persistent and worsening racial disparities we see in who is arrested, referred, and detained. That will require transparency and collaboration. Under Manion’s leadership, King County was the first in the state to publicly share a dashboard disaggregating arrests and referrals by race and ethnicity. It’s an important step, and Manion, who would be the first woman and first person of color to hold this office in King County, is the right person to deepen this work.
The King County Prosecutor can be one of those offices that is easy to forget, especially because its title doesn’t describe the full set of programs and responsibilities that the office can oversee. Manion understands that just because she’s a prosecutor, her office does so much more than prosecute. The mission of the King County Prosecutor’s office, after all, is “to do justice.” Respected former King County Prosecutor, the late Norm Maleng, once wrote that this means “not just to win cases, but to serve the cause of justice with fairness and integrity.” That’s the approach and ethos that Manion embodies, and electing her is how we can uphold the truest version of public safety that our communities need today and for the long-term.
Kia C. Franklin is the executive director for Stand for Children Washington, a nonprofit advocating for education equity and racial justice statewide. She also serves on the boards of CHOOSE 180 and The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. She has a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and is a proud resident of King County.