King County Prosecuting Attorney – Leesa Manion

Request for Endorsement – Municipal/Other Questionnaire

Candidate Info

Candidate Name Leesa Manion
Position Sought King County Prosecuting Attorney
Are you an incumbent for this position? Non-incumbent
Home Legislative District 34th Legislative District
Are you a Democrat? Yes

Campaign Info

Campaign Manager or Point of Contact Erin Schultz, NWP Consulting
Mailing Address 401 2nd Ave S Ste 303, Seattle, WA 98104
Phone +1(206) 682-7328 for the campaign number; (206) 817-1907 is the candidate’s personal cell phone number
Twitter @leesamanion

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience. I was born in an army hospital near Seoul, South Korea, to a Korean mother and Caucasian father. I went on to graduate from college and Seattle University School of Law and began my career in public service, first as Rule 9 Legal Intern (1995), then as a civil litigation Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (1996-2000). I later served as Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng’s Deputy Chief of Staff (2000-2007).
For the past 15 years, I have served as Chief of Staff of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO), where I have spearheaded projects aimed at protecting public safety, reducing racial disproportionality, strengthening victim services, and holding repeat perpetrators accountable. I also oversee a workforce of nearly 600 employees and an annual budget of $80 million.
I am also honored to serve on the Board of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and as an award-winning member of the Korean Prosecutors Association. I have also served on the Boards of Pioneer Human Services (a nonprofit focused on facilitating the successful reentry for individuals leaving prison and/or dealing with substance use or behavioral health issues) and the Beecher’s Foundation (a nonprofit dedicated to promoting food equity in all communities and operating a food education program for kids across the nation).
As an advisor for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) “Unbundle Policing” Solve Venture Lab Initiative, I support the initiative’s focus on improving public safety and policing in the United States. I was also a member of the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Leadership Network, (housed in Georgetown University’s Center For Juvenile Justice Reform) –a select group of experienced juvenile justice leaders, tasked with identifying emerging and innovative policies and practices to improve fairness and effectiveness within all realms of juvenile justice.
2. What prompted you to run for this office? I want to serve as Prosecuting Attorney to build a fair and transparent justice system by crafting innovative solutions through broad coalitions and creating positive change to keep every community across King County safe.

I care deeply about the work of the office and its impact in our communities. I care about the women and men in the PAO who have dedicated their careers to public service and who are looking for consistent and experienced leadership. I am running to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents of King County who want to feel safe in their neighborhoods and communities.

I am a collaborative leader who is experienced at identifying common ground and building effective solutions and programs with a broad range of stakeholders. I have deep relationships in all parts of King County government and the municipal governments throughout King County, and I have experience in collaborating across jurisdictions to accomplish and effectuate change.
I also have deep ties to our community, and my philanthropic work has allowed me to build effective public/private partnerships, blending the talents and effectiveness of King County government combined with community-based resources.

As the PAO’s Chief of Staff , I have spearheaded projects to protect public safety, reduce racial disproportionality, strengthen victim services, and hold repeat perpetrators accountable.

3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign? In my role as Chief of Staff, I have built strong partnerships. On the campaign trail, I am committed to continuing to build partnerships, and to showing up and meeting with members of the community, meeting with small business owners, meeting with community-based nonprofits and service providers to hear their concerns, to partner and implement innovative solutions, to lead and hold myself and my team accountable.
It means repairing frayed relationships that were strained and tested during the pandemic. It means leading and facilitating important conversations to identify shared values, being honest about the challenges we’re facing, and building effective solutions. It means circling back to communities and sharing data to demonstrate our success in a transparent manner.
It means continuing to secure the endorsements of respected leaders from a broad range of expertise.
It also means continuing to be an effective fundraiser where a broad range of individuals are willing to invest in me with their hard-earned dollars.
It means working hard and not taking anything for granted, and being willing to show up. It means being humble and listening to those who have important perspectives and making room for those who want a seat at the table to collaborate and offer solutions. It means listening to the feedback of the citizens of King County, believing their lived experience, and committing to building continuous improvements to our justice system.
It means building on my 27 years of experience and continuing the important work of ensuring the safety, health, and well being of all my King County neighbors.
4. What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)? Protecting public safety and increasing community health
As prosecutor I will reduce crime and recidivism by strengthening crime prevention strategies, alternatives to incarceration, and addressing chronic perpetrators by interrupting cycles of crime and offering services to address behavioral and mental health issues.
I am also committed to keeping our communities safe by improving communication and coordination with law enforcement so that we can proactively share data, interrupt low level offenses in order to reduce crime and incarceration, and provide additional officer training regarding case filing standards and criminal law updates.
Reducing gun violence
I believe we are deserving of a community free of the harmful impacts of gun violence, and I have long worked to address the gun crisis in King County and in our State. As Prosecutor, I will continue to prioritize gun safety to identify and remove guns from children, domestic violence, and other dangerous situations.
Juvenile Justice
I believe in the power of community-based programs as our best upstream solution to provide our kids with the support and resources needed to succeed. Youth who drop out of high school are eight times more likely to enter the criminal justice system and be incarcerated than high school graduates. Community and prosecutors can work together to divert non-violent cases out of the justice system and to combat youth violence by strengthening pro-social norms and protective factors in youth and decreasing risk factors. These efforts are data-driven. Research shows that connecting youth to structure and opportunities, such as employment, job mentorship and training, educational supports, and behavioral interventions can improve youth well-being and reduce violence.

Part II – Yes/No Questions, please qualify your answer if necessary

1. Do you support steps to build a fairer economy through tax reform and progressive taxes as wealth increases? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #1
2. Do you support robust investment in publicly owned housing/subsidized housing for elderly and low-income individuals/families, and zoning changes to support such housing? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #2
3. Developer impact fees are allowed under the Growth Management Act. Should they be increased to help pay for needed improvements to our roads, parks, and schools? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #3
4. Do you support building a municipally owned and operated broadband system in your city or jurisdiction? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #4
5. Do you support local investments to address climate change where applicable? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #5
6. Do you support women’s unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #6
7. Do you support laws regulating the purchase, ownership, and carrying of firearms? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #7 Since 2015, I have served on the Board of the Alliance For Gun Responsibility (AGR) , where I strongly supported the passage and enactment of new laws that served to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals:
– SHB 2410, restricted access to firearms for certain felonies;
– HB 1840, increased victim safety by creating a process where judges could require domestic violence perpetrators to surrender their firearms;
– I-594, established universal background checks in Washington State;
– I-1491, the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) initiative, empowered families and law enforcement to prevent harm by temporarily restricting access to guns for individuals who are at an elevated risk of harming themselves or others
8. Do you support the right of workers to unionize and bargain, including public employees? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #8

Part III – Free Response (Please answer at least four fully, and consider the additional three optional)

1. Why are you requesting Democratic endorsement? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you? While I am running for a nonpartisan position, I identify as a Democrat and resonate with the platform’s commitment to equity, particularly within our justice and economic systems, anti-racism and women’s rights.
2. What public policy reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC and LBQIA+ individuals in our communities? The Prosecutor’s office can play a key role in ensuring equal treatment and inclusion within the law for all. I will use my position to eliminate barriers to justice for historically marginalized populations by:
Reducing language barriers
Promoting better understanding of victims and communities
Promoting inclusivity and acceptance of cultural differences
Offering culturally sensitive and effective services
Offering early interventions closer to the time of harm
Partnering with community based resources to increase capacity and cultural responsiveness
Addressing hate crimes
3. What steps do you think need to be taken to improve voter turnout and increase voter trust in our election process? I am committed to a fair and transparent justice system that builds and maintains public trust. I believe that demonstrating our office’s fair and impartial commitment to justice, professionalism, and investing in engagement with the community is the best way to show voters that we are here to protect the safety and well being of all communities. With every contact with the public, the accused, law enforcement, and victims and their families, prosecutors and staff have an opportunity to build confidence in our justice system and in our political process.
4. What important local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the local media? As the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Prosecuting Attorney, I will bring an important perspective as someone for whom the justice system was not built to protect. I will bring this perspective to my work on victim services.

I will serve victims and families with care and respect. I am committed to enhancing victim services to reduce language barriers, offering culturally sensitive and effective services, prioritizing early interventions closer to the time of harm, and partnering with community based resources to increase capacity and cultural responsiveness. As Chief of Staff, I added 10 new victim advocates to the PAO, and secured funding for and created a Director of Victim Services to lead important reforms and innovations in victim services.

I am also a strong believer in the effectiveness of early intervention efforts to keep kids in school and out of the justice system. Youth who drop out of high school are eight times more likely to enter the criminal justice system and be incarcerated than high school graduates. Many do not realize that our State’s truancy laws have been drafted to be enforced in the juvenile court system. As the chief strategist behind the PAO’s truancy/dropout prevention and education engagement program, I developed partnerships with the court and school districts so that when truancy petitions are filed in court, we agree to “stay” them (which is like hitting pause on the court system) so that we can, instead, offer children and families educational supports, led by community based providers, at the school level. This type of early intervention is a proven and effective crime prevention strategy.
I am also proud to have launched, in 2011, the PAO’s high school intern program with the goal of increasing diversity and interest in the practice of law by offering a law firm work experience to young people who may not have a natural path to this type of experience.
And finally, through my work at the PAO, I helped launch our State’s first Domestic Violence Firearm Enforcement Unit, a multi-disciplinary approach to track and enforce Extreme Risk Protection Orders, as well as remove, store and return of surrendered firearms across all of King County. In its first year of operation, the DV Firearms Enforcement Unit safely removed 466 firearms from domestic violence and other dangerous situations – more than 3x the number of firearms removed the year prior to its launch.

5. Please list at least three specific, concrete actions you would support to ease the homelessness crisis. The PAO and other justice system stakeholders lack many of the appropriate tools to support those who are experiencing homelessness or the root causes of homelessness. I am a strong proponent of using therapeutic alternatives such as LEAD, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans’ Court to connect individuals who find themselves entangled in the justice system to important services that help prevent homelessness by addressing root causes.

As a coalition builder, I will also support law and policymakers in every way I can to increase services and capacity to ensure increased levels of shelter, affordable housing, and access to treatment and medical services. As Prosecuting Attorney I will also work to protect and enhance victim services. Data reveals that individuals experiencing homelessness are more likely to become victims of crime. Protecting public safety includes protecting those who are vulnerable.

6. What safety, law, or justice issues are currently facing your jurisdiction, and how will you address them? I am committed to protecting public safety and increasing community health. In order to achieve this goal, I am committed to:
– Working to reduce crime and recidivism – this includes strengthening crime prevention strategies and offering effective diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration.
– Identifying and addressing chronic perpetrators – this includes interrupting repeated cycles of crime and offering services to address behavioral and mental health issues.
– Working to reduce the fear of crime –this includes sharing data to dispel fear-mongering and myths and to focus scarce resources on hot spots and chronic perpetrators.
– Serving victims and families with care and respect – this includes enhancing victim services to:
– Reduce language barriers
– Promote better understanding of victims and communities
– Promote inclusivity and acceptance of cultural differences
– Offering culturally sensitive and effective services
– Offering early interventions closer to the time of harm
– Partnering with community based resources to increase capacity and cultural responsiveness
I am committed to improving communication and coordination with law enforcement by:
– Proactively sharing crime data and building new partnerships to improve information sharing;
– Building new partnerships to combat gun violence and more effectively interrupt low level offenses in order to reduce crime and incarceration;
– Providing additional officer training regarding case filing standards and criminal law updates;
I am committed to building new partnerships and innovations to:
– Connect individuals at risk of becoming perpetrators or victims of violence to social resources to shift behavior and to address trauma and other underlying health issues.
– Reduce substance abuse by working to increase access to treatment, both in the community and in our prisons and jail;
– Combat organized retail theft and improve communication with our business community.
And finally, gun violence among adults has increased, but gun violence among youth has decreased. In order to more effectively address gun violence, I proposed we use four key strategies:
– First, we must identify where gun violence is the greatest and determine which neighborhoods and individuals need the most urgent interventions. The Crime Strategies Unit of the PAO, in partnership with law enforcement, has this data.
– Second, we must directly engage those individuals most at risk to offer opportunities as an alternative to violence, before they become either victims or perpetrators of violence.
– Third, we must offer a broad range of services and supports – educational support, employment, mentoring and treatment and mental health services.
– And finally, for those who do not respond to community-based interventions and services, police, prosecutors and the community must work together on a court-based enforcement and supervision strategy that is transparent, brings accountability, and continues to offer therapeutic services to individuals who are convicted of gun crimes.
7. What are the transportation/transit challenges which face your jurisdiction and how would you address them? What role does green energy play in your proposed solutions? I would continue to support the good work of the PAO’s Civil Division who advise our King County clients on important transportation and environmental policies that positively impact our citizens and our region. I would also look for opportunities to support appropriate legislative efforts in these critical areas.


By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name Leesa Manion
Date (mm/dd/yy) 03/02/2022

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