June 22, 2010 in City

Prosecutor, challengers face off at forum

All three defend pace of charging suspects
By The Spokesman-Review

Two Republican candidates for Spokane County prosecutor took turns throwing haymakers at 12-year incumbent Steve Tucker at a forum Monday that did not include two other hopefuls.

Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, who both worked under Tucker, challenged his leadership and community outreach at the event sponsored by Republicans of Spokane County. Democratic candidate Frank Malone and self-proclaimed “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson were not invited, although Reierson attended.

At one point in the forum, a woman asked the candidates which hopeful they would support if they fail to secure enough votes to advance beyond the Aug. 17 primary. Both Tucker and Stevens said they would support Bugbee.

“I agree with both of them,” Bugbee said to a round of laughter.

“I’ve got real concerns about both candidates,” Bugbee continued. “I like them both personally. But Dave has made decisions as a deputy that if made by the prosecutor would jeopardize the safety of the public. And Steve has simply failed to act.

“We need a leader in this position who is going to do the job. You can’t just put your head in the sand and let the deputies do the work for you.”

Stevens, who was fired by Tucker after reportedly announcing which deputies he would fire and which he would retain if elected, also attacked Tucker’s accessibility to the public.

“I would be there when I have to be there … to make sure the community knows I am out there advocating for their safety,” Stevens said. “We are already one of the largest (prosecutor’s offices in the state). Shouldn’t we be one of the best, too?”

In his closing argument, Tucker did not address the many criticisms levied at his tenure.

“I’ve been there 12 years. I clearly have the experience in law enforcement and management,” he said.

During the forum, in which attendees were allowed to ask questions, Reierson pointed out that his fellow prosecutors in Kootenai County get paperwork filed on felons within 24 hours. He asked why that couldn’t be the case in Spokane County.

“Sometimes law enforcement officers, through no fault of their own, can’t give you the information you need” to file charges within 72 hours, Stevens responded. “But if they were career criminals or sexually violent predators, our office went out of our way to get it done on time.”

Tucker said, “Police in Idaho must be amazing”, and that getting felons charged within 72 hours “just doesn’t work out all the time.” Bugbee agreed with Stevens and Tucker that deputy prosecutors are doing what they can.

“But what’s not being done by our current prosecutor is bringing all those people together to address the issue,” he said. “We can do better. That’s what I intend to do.”

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