Leesa Manion, a career prosecuting attorney who has served for 15 years as chief of staff in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, has announced that she will seek election to the position of King County Prosecutor. The incumbent, Dan Satterberg, announced on Jan. 7 that he will not seek re-election.
A 27-year veteran of the state’s largest Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Manion supervises a staff of 600 and manages an annual budget of more than $80 million. If elected, Manion — who was born in a U.S. military hospital in South Korea — would be the first woman and first person of color to serve in this position.
“I am so proud of my experience serving the growing and diverse communities of King County, and look forward to building upon my leadership in protecting public safety, reducing racial disproportionality, strengthening victim services, and holding repeat perpetrators accountable,” said Manion. “As we confront critical public safety issues in this ongoing pandemic, including domestic violence, property crimes and organized crime harming small businesses, I’ll bring critical and necessary perspectives and expertise to make our communities and families safer, while never losing sight of the gains we have made in making our criminal legal system more fair and just for youth and vulnerable populations.”
Manion’s touted accomplishments include: securing funding for the PAO’s Crime Strategies “Shots Fired” Unit, which tracks shootings in King County; creating and securing funding for a new Director of Victim Services position; adding ten new victim advocate positions; serving as a co-founding partner of Choose 180; launching the PAO’s high school intern program to build diversity and interest to the practice of law; leading the PAO’s first review of all “Three Strikes” cases; launching Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS), a juvenile domestic violence intervention; building a diverse team of PAO leaders, deputy prosecutors, and staff.
Manion’s entry to the race was welcomed by outgoing Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who spoke to her experience and approach.
“No one understands the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office better than Leesa, not only how it operates, but the potential for what it can be. She can be a visionary for the future of the office, and is uniquely positioned to help the amazing team of professionals she leads every day– and the people we serve – through challenging times,” said Satterberg. “For 15 years, Leesa has built partnerships with law enforcement, community leaders, and victim advocates to provide pathways to recovery for survivors, effective interventions for youth, veterans, and the vulnerable, and accountability for serious offenders.”
Law enforcement leaders echo Manion’s approach to police reform and effective partnerships.
“Leesa’s deep experience is critical to implement real criminal justice reform. She understands the necessity of system-wide collaboration to achieve better public safety outcomes and ensure equity and justice for all involved,” said former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr. “I have full confidence that Leesa will continue her strong record of service as County Prosecutor.”
Addressing the public health and safety crisis of gun violence is a priority for Manion, and an area where she will bring new energy and focus as Prosecutor.
“I know how to address this problem from multiple perspectives,” said Manion. “Through my work to create the multi-disciplinary Regional Domestic Violence Firearm Enforcement Unit, we safely removed 466 firearms from domestic violence and other dangerous situations in the first year alone – more than 3x the number of firearms removed the year prior to its launch.”
Minion said under her leadership the office would use data to identify where gun violence is the greatest and determine which neighborhoods and individuals’ needs are the most urgent, so prosecutors can intervene directly with youth most at risk to offer opportunities as an alternative to violence. For those who do not respond to intervention, Manion said prosecutors must work together on a court-based strategy that is transparent, brings accountability, and continues to offer therapeutic services to young people.
This is Manion’s first campaign for public office following a career of public service. Committed to the independence of the office, she says she is not taking any corporate PAC dollars or financial contributions from employees in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Manion, a graduate of Seattle University School of Law, lives with her two children in West Seattle.