A longtime Spokane County deputy prosecutor will challenge her boss, incumbent county prosecutor Larry Haskell, in August’s primary.
Stefanie Collins, 54, announced her candidacy Thursday. Stephanie Olsen, a Spokane County native and longtime attorney, filed last month and will join Collins and Haskell in the primary.
“I’ve been prosecuting cases aggressively for the last 28 years (in the county prosecutor’s office), working the toughest cases with the most prolific offenders and listening to the most vulnerable victims,” Collins said.
Collins, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney, said she has joined forces with the courts and service agencies to stop the cycle of destructive criminal behavior.
“I see that crime is on the rise and present tactics are not working, so I thought it’s time for me to take my broad experience and deep commitment to this office and our community, and become your next Spokane County prosecutor,” Collins said.
She said her commitment to Spokane County is to be “tough and fair.”
Collins said she is tough on the “most dangerous offenders,” knowing some need to be incarcerated so the rest of the community can live safely.
“That is my number one goal as prosecutor, is keeping the public safe and holding offenders accountable,” she said.
At the same time, most offenders will be released back into the community, and she claimed she has worked harder than the other two candidates in preventing recidivism, in part by working in treatment and alternative-to-incarceration programs.
Collins said many services in the county are not being used to their fullest to address underlying issues that create the cycle of criminal behavior. She said some of those programs, like mental health treatment and drug court, could be used in a “more expansive way.”
Collins said she has considered running for the position for quite a while. She said both her children are now in college, so “I can throw my energies into a new arena.”
She revealed she did not notify Haskell before announcing her candidacy, and that her conversations with her boss will be kept between the two of them.
Haskell faced controversy earlier this year after his wife made racist remarks on social media, which included the use of racial slurs and saying she is a “proud white nationalist.” Haskell has since apologized for his wife’s remarks and denounced them as “racist and reprehensible.”
Collins said she is not running in response to the remarks of Haskell’s wife.
“I am running on my merits and only my merits,” Collins said. “I have nothing to say about any of the other candidates. I have nothing to say other than I am the most qualified person for this job given my experience, given my outlook and given my commitment in this community.”
Collins has lived in Spokane since 1990, when she moved to start classes at Gonzaga University School of Law. She said she received her law degree from the school in 1993.
“This is my home,” she said.
Collins officially will launch her campaign with a reception from 5 -7 p.m. Thursday at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane. The public is welcome to attend.
Collins has not raised any money as of Friday, according to the Washington state Public Disclosure Commission. Meanwhile, Haskell has raised $18,330.30 and Olsen has raised $6,425.62.
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