Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell concedes to Leesa Manion in King County prosecutor race

Ferrell has three years remaining in his term as mayor.

King County Prosecuting Attorney candidate and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell conceded to opponent Leesa Manion on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 10. Manion will lead the county’s top justice office following the retirement of longtime prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg.

In a statement, Ferrell said he called Manion to congratulate her on a historic election, adding that it was a “spirited and hard fought campaign,” and wishing Manion luck as she takes on challenges facing the region.

“I felt it was important to acknowledge the likely outcome and to congratulate Leesa on her victory,” Ferrell told the Mirror on Nov. 11. “I always think it’s important to make sure that when elections are over, the candidates and the community come together. It’s really important we all work together because we all work for the public that we serve.”

On election night, initial results showed Ferrell earned approximately 44% or 173,144 votes, with Manion leading at 55% of the votes, or 216,545 votes. As of Nov. 11, Manion has garnered 281,288 votes to Ferrell’s 219,937 votes, according to King County Elections.

Ferrell said he looks forward to seeing the outcomes of individual areas in King County, and said a more strategic approach to certain areas of the 16 Legislative Districts in King County could have helped pull off a victory for him.

“It’s a progressive county, one of the most progressive counties in the country just by numbers, and it’s a difficult process with two Democrats to try to differentiate yourself,” he said.

Manion has served as the chief of staff for Satterberg’s office for 15 years, where she supervised over 600 employees. She earned endorsements from Satterberg, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

When asked if this is an opportunity to have a better working relationship with the prosecutor’s office, Ferrell said he hopes so. While campaigning, Ferrell heavily criticized the current operations of the prosecuting attorney’s office as well as Manion’s lack of experience in prosecuting cases.

“I think we had different ways of approaching those issues and certain philosophical differences that really came out during the campaign,” Ferrell said about Manion. “I think we were concerned about the same issues, perhaps different ways of going about it.”

In past debates and discussions, Manion has supported investments and coordination between agencies to create a better mental healthcare system that more effectively interacts with the criminal justice system. She has also advocated for a program that divert certain offenders out of incarceration, like King County’s Restorative Community Pathways program, which works to offer justice alternatives to juvenile offenders of certain crimes.

Ferrell, a former prosecutor with 19 years of experience, campaigned on frustrations with rising crime levels in the region. Ferrell has also been a strong opponent of King County’s Restorative Community Pathways program, which he says was implemented by the county without local input, transparency or accountability measures. Ferrell also raised concerns that the program includes offenders of certain robbery and possession of an illegal weapon charges, among others.

A few major points of disagreement included how to address the backlog of over 4,000 felony cases awaiting trial, reviewing standards for case filing, and general office organization that currently, Ferrell said, does not utilize the workforce in the most efficient manner.

‘Federal Way has my full attention’

With his focus returning back to Federal Way, Ferrell said the city is an example of public safety improvements.

“I really use Federal Way as a model of what we’re doing,” he said. “I think actually we’re doing all the right things from graffiti removal and picking up garbage around town and addressing crime throughout the city and having Special Operations Units … it’s about continuing the efforts that we have begun, ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to keep our city safe.”

Ferrell earned several endorsements from various police guilds, including Federal Way, Seattle, Kent and Bellevue, and remains steadfast in his acknowledgement of those supporters.

“I was proud to have the endorsement of all those law enforcement agencies,” he said. “I think those endorsements were very important to demonstrate what my leadership would’ve been like in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office because they’re an important partner in that process.”

“I’m really proud of the campaign we ran and the overwhelming support we had,” he said. Ferrell’s campaign raised $405,227.43, according to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). “We did everything we could think of.”

There was risk for Ferrell, who has served as mayor since 2014 and has three years remaining in this term, to campaign for another job. When asked how he plans to restore the constituents’ faith in him, Ferrell said he received “universally very warm and supportive comments from our fellow residents.”

“I really didn’t hear from anybody that was upset [with] me about seeking the opportunity to serve at a higher level, that would’ve also included service to Federal Way,” he said. “What I would say to those folks is that Federal Way has my full attention and I’m honored to have this role.”

Reporter Cameron Sheppard contributed to this story.