In a fairly distant past, local and national voters excluded many people from politics because of the color of their skin. Because of their belief. Because of their ethnicity. That was wrong. It was shameful.
There was a time around here – a long time ago – when black people couldn’t be elected. Over the years, voters have become more open-minded. I don’t think voters are interested in personal characteristics anymore. Norm Rice was the city’s first black mayor when he was elected twice in the 1990s. Washington State has twice elected Barack Obama President. Seattle voters have elected a lesbian mayor. Before that, they elected a gay man to be mayor. They have since elected current Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, who is black and Asian.
The most important thing voters seem to care about when choosing a candidate is their politics. What counts here is whether a candidate has a “D” next to his name.
Regrettably, King County voters have given up their right to choose their sheriff at the ballot box in 2020. Now the onus is on the executive branch and county council for an appointment — not voter approval.
When former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht’s difficult tenure ended in late 2021, voters were unable to choose her successor. Instead, a statewide search for the next top police officer in the county turned up 12 applicants. Seven were interviewed; three went on as finalists. Each finalist is black.
I’m less concerned with the qualifications of the three finalists – although that is an important factor. Instead, my question is thorny because it goes against left-wing orthodoxy in King County: Just as shameful as it was for our country years ago to bar people of color from leadership positions, isn’t it just as shameful to bar white people now?
My sources tell me that at least two applicants who were not granted interviews are white. Both are exceptionally qualified and have the same, if not better, experience and understanding of local people, politics and issues. More than half of the law enforcement agencies in the greater Puget Sound area are Caucasian. Does this mean that none of the white applicants were considered?
Fortunately, in Seattle we have a number of appointed local leaders who either rose through the local ranks or gained significant experience in comparable cities before taking on their next jobs: former Seattle Police Commissioner Carmen Best and her successor – current interim chief Adrian Diaz, who has headed the Seattle Police Department since late 2020 and is being considered for the role permanently. Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins was in charge of the armed forces in Glendale, California for seven years before moving to Seattle.
But two of the three current finalists for King County Sheriff aren’t from the area, and the third has never really been down the road with the base.
Charles Kimble is the chief of police in Killeen, Texas, population 160,000 – at least 50,000 fewer than the city of Tacoma and unincorporated King County. Kimble has 30 years of law enforcement experience — much of it in Milwaukee.
Atlanta Police Department Major Reginal Moorman went one step further after joining the force there. As he rose through the ranks, he was named deputy director of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force — a team of local, state, and federal officials in Georgia and both Carolinas. He is currently the Section Commander at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Moorman is also an associate professor of criminal justice at three colleges.
And current interim sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said when she was temporarily called to the role last fall, she didn’t want to be considered for the job permanently. As she rose through the local ranks, it was not as a police officer but as a special agent with the state Gaming Commission. She later worked for the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division investigating unemployment benefit fraud and theft. Since then, much of her work for King County has been as a community corrections investigator and administrator. Unlike most of her subordinates, Cole-Tindall has never taken a step.
Crime is the number one problem for anyone who listens to my voice in this region. And maybe the police chief in Killeen, Texas, or a major in Atlanta is the best choice. But I find it hard to imagine that this is automatically a better choice than someone who is experienced and local.
But these finalists are in the hands of leftists in the King County government. And Executive Director Dow Constantine and the Democrats on the council are obsessed with race. Therefore, they exclude a large mass of people from consideration.
Listen to Dori Monson on weekday afternoons from 12pm to 3pm on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.