The real talking in the race for Spokane County prosecutor begins Monday when the Republicans of Spokane County hosts a forum for three of the five candidates seeking the post.
The forum will be moderated by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has not endorsed any of the candidates. The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, 8923 E. Mission Ave., in Millwood, and will include incumbent Steve Tucker, Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, who all list themselves as Republicans.
Not invited are Democratic candidate Frank Malone and “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson, who works as a deputy prosecutor in Kootenai County.
“I will just basically be controlling the flow of questions,” Knezovich said. “One of the things I’ve been asked to do is make sure the candidates cover what they perceive the role of the prosecutor is.”
Steve Tucker has been the local option since 1999. He has raised the second-most money thus far, some $7,554 as of Friday. But many of his contributions have come from his subordinates, including deputy prosecutors Jack Driscoll, Jim Emacio, Brian O’Brien and Jim Kaufman, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.
Tucker, who did not return calls Friday seeking comment, also lists a $50 contribution from former employee Stevens. But that was before Tucker fired Stevens for reportedly making promises about which deputy prosecutors Stevens would fire if elected.
Stevens, who himself accepted a $500 contribution from the wife of a man charged with felony harassment of a city official, said he’s looking forward to the forum.
“I want to get the message out and tell the people that we need a change in the prosecutor’s office and I’m the guy who will bring that leadership,” said Stevens, who had raised $5,406 by Friday. “Where somebody’s money comes from tells you who they associate with.”
Asked about the $500 contribution to his campaign from Belinda Elton, wife of civic gadfly and Spokane County commissioner candidate David Elton, Stevens said he believes the contribution is legitimate.
David Elton was ordered this week to undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial on harassment charges related to threatening e-mails sent last year to Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and to Betsy Cowles, chairwoman of the Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review.
“It wasn’t from him. It was from his wife,” Stevens said. “Tucker was quoted as saying he didn’t see a conflict with it.”
But the leader, thus far, in the fundraising race is another former deputy prosecutor under Tucker, Chris Bugbee. He had raised $9,081 as of Friday, according to the PDC.
“I’ve got the endorsement of the Spokane Police Guild, which I think goes a long way to what I have said all along. If you talk to people at the courthouse who know what the prosecutor is supposed be, they know I am the best candidate,” Bugbee said.
Democrat Frank Malone could not be reached Friday. But according to the PDC, Malone has raised $4,809 as of Friday, including contributions from well-known Democratic supporters Don Barbieri, Tom Keefe and former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley.
Reierson, who unsuccessfully challenged Tucker in 2006, had not reported any contributions as of Friday. He has not affiliated with a party because he believes the prosecutor’s office should be a nonpartisan position.
“I think this is one of the most important races that Spokane voters are facing this year,” said Reierson, who lives in Spokane. “I feel I have more experience than any of the candidates. Mr. Bugbee and Stevens have worked several years in a prosecutor’s office. But I’m … a career prosecutor.”
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