SEATTLE – King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced Friday that after four terms in office, he won’t seek re-election this year.
Satterberg has spent his entire career in the office, having joined it as an intern in 1984 and taking a full-time job the next year. Then-Prosecutor Norm Maleng made him chief of staff at age 30, and he worked closely with Maleng until his sudden death in 2007, when Satterberg became prosecutor.
In a statement Friday he said he wants to focus this year on addressing challenges posed by the pandemic, which include a backlog of some 6,000 felony cases. He also said that being home with his wife, an attorney at Microsoft, during COVID helped him realize that’s where he wants to be.
“Serving in this office has been an extraordinary privilege for me, and being the elected PA is the best job that I could ever have, but it’s not the only thing that I ever want to do with my life,” Satterberg said.
Satterberg, a Republican until 2018, when President Donald Trump’s tenure helped inspire him to leave the party and become a Democrat, was known for taking progressive steps as a prosecutor.
In the days before cannabis legalization in Washington, he made clear he wasn’t interested in prosecuting sick medical marijuana patients. He worked to help establish a diversion program that has kept low-level narcotics and prostitution cases out of court, and he sought to resentence people who faced life in prison under the state’s three-strikes law.
Satterberg also backed a diversion program that became the nonprofit Choose 180, aimed at keeping young people out of the criminal justice system.
Satterberg’s chief of staff, Leesa Manion, quickly announced a campaign to replace him.
She would be the first woman and first person of color to head the office, which has more than 575 employees.
There have been only four elected prosecutors since 1949: Chuck Carroll, who served from 1949-71; Chris Bayley, 1971-79; Maleng, 1979-2007; and Satterberg.
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