(The Center Square) – At a time when crime is a major concern, three-term Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell believes he is the right person to be King County’s next prosecuting attorney and that his law-and-order approach is what voters want.
It's an office he is familiar with. Prior to becoming mayor in 2014, Ferrell served for 16 years as a King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney. Ferrell’s resume also includes a previous stint as prosecutor for the city of Renton.
Ferrell, 56, filed paperwork to run for the office on Jan. 7, the same day that King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced he would be retiring and not seeking another term. Ferrell formally launched his campaign for the office on Jan. 27.
“People care about crime and safety,” Ferrell said, pointing out that last month in King County there were a record 28 homicide callouts.
Ferrell was one of 11 South King County mayors to sign a publicly-released letter last month expressing frustration with rising crime and violence.
“King County cities are seeing a disturbing rise in violent crime, as well as drug offenses and property crimes including auto thefts, burglaries, and robberies,” the letter said. “Our community of residents, businesses, and visitors – the victims of these crimes – are fed up and action is necessary.”
Acting is what Ferrell plans to do if voters choose to elect him as the county’s next prosecuting attorney.
He mentioned the office’s backlog of approximately 5,000 felony cases, including 500 sexual assaults and 180 homicides, which piled up because of court closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So, that’s an emergency,” Ferrell said. “It’s the first thing I will tackle.”
Also on Ferrell’s list: the county’s Restorative Community Pathway diversion program, implemented in November 2021, for juveniles who enter the criminal justice system.
Ferrell contends that while he supports the idea of allowing prosecutors to reduce incarceration by using their discretion to divert people away from the criminal legal system, the RCP lacks any kind of oversight and needs to be reformed.
“It’s a juvenile justice program without the justice,” he said. “This thing has gone off the rails.”
Filing and dispositions standards should reflect the community served, he said, but right now that’s not the case.
“You get no case number, no check back, no judge, no discernible program,” he said about what’s wrong with the RCP.
Ferrell was also critical of the program on another front. He said he and others were informed at a December 2021 meeting of South King County mayors and other county leaders to address crime that the RCP was already under way.
The mayors were “blindsided,” according to Ferrell, to find out that in spite of asking for a pause in the program at the meeting, that the King County Prosecutor’s Office had already implemented the program.
“Dow Constantine’s office [King County Executive] said it had been in effect for six weeks,” he said.
To address these and other challenges, Ferrell will have to get past Leesa Manion, the longtime chief of staff at the prosecutor’s office.
Because it’s an officially nonpartisan contest in which only two candidates filed, it wasn’t on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. King County voters will choose their next prosecuting attorney during the Nov. 8 general election.
Ferrell said Manion is a nice person, but lacks his experience.
“I don’t think she’s up to the job,” he said.
Ferrell is confident he is up to the job he referred to as the "culmination of my career."
“I can tell you that it’s time for a change,” he said. “Help is on the way.”