Party values, experience focus of prosecutor candidate forum
Seattle Times staff reporter
Next candidates forumWhere: Puget Sound Energy auditorium, 355 110th Ave. N.E.,
When: Noon-1 p.m. Wednesday
Sponsors: King County Bar Association, League of Women Voters of Greater Seattle, the Municipal League of King County
The Republican and Democratic candidates for King County prosecuting attorney, who both say party politics has no place in the halls of justice, debated Wednesday whether voters ought to consider the values of their respective political parties when choosing between them.
They also debated the value of their experience — inside and outside the office.
Republican Dan Satterberg and Democrat Bill Sherman laid out their campaign platforms during a one-hour forum at the Central Library in Seattle, sponsored by the King County Bar Association, League of Women Voters of Greater Seattle and the Municipal League of King County.
A Republican has had the prosecutor's job for the past 60 years. Norm Maleng, who died May 24 of cardiac arrest, held the job for nearly half that time.
The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously appointed Satterberg, 47, interim prosecutor. He had been Maleng's second-in-command for 17 years.
Sherman, 39, is a deputy prosecutor in the domestic-violence unit, on leave during the campaign just as he was when he ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2006.
Satterberg and Sherman are running to fill the remaining three years of Maleng's term.
Sherman, running in a county that tends to vote Democratic when all else is equal, said that although justice should be blind to political party, something can be learned about the values and priorities of candidates based on their party affiliation.
"When we look at things like how drug crimes are prosecuted, the Republican Party has been very strong on the war on drugs and [on] incarceration being the primary method to deal with addiction," he said, pointing out that the parties also differ on environmental protection and gun control.
But Satterberg took issue, noting that Maleng went to Olympia in 2003 to ask the Legislature to cut drug sentences in half and redirect the money spent to incarcerate those offenders from prisons to treatment.
"So our values were maybe not in line with the Republican National Committee or Congress, but here in King County we know where we ought to put our resources, and we ought to make sure that drug treatment and drug courts are fully funded," Satterberg said.
"As a consequence, King County drug court gets $1.6 million to buy drug treatment for people who need it — and we're very proud of that."
Satterberg enters the race with the advantage of incumbency. He has worked in the Prosecutor's Office since 1985, while Maleng brought Sherman aboard in 2003.
"This is one office where experience matters," Satterberg said. "I don't mean experience that's measured in terms of longevity but experience at being at the heart of the decision-making process ... and finding a just resolution on a high-profile case. That kind of experience is really what breeds judgment."
Before joining the Prosecutor's Office, Sherman was a litigation associate for a large Seattle civil-law firm. He also was an aide to Bruce Babbitt when Babbitt was Interior secretary under President Clinton.
Sherman said his range of experience would help him bring innovation to the office.
"We need to make sure we've got somebody who is going to express our priorities and our values and also be willing to look at the organization and not say, 'It is how it is and that's the way it always should be,' but to ask, based on experience and based on a sense of what the possibilities are, how we might be able to do better," Sherman said.
Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or email@example.com
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