Two deputy prosecutors – one from Spokane County and one from Stevens County – will face each other in November’s general election for Stevens County prosecutor.
The candidates are vying to replace four-term county prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who is retiring.
If elected, Geoff Kristianson, a 45-year-old deputy prosecutor for Spokane County, said he will prioritize prosecuting violent offenders. Erika George, a 37-year-old deputy prosecutor for Stevens County, aims to bring transparency to the office with a focus on accountability.
Both are Republicans, but the Stevens County Republican Central Committee endorsed George for the office.
After a crowded primary, there are plenty of remaining votes that could still decide the race. George led the primary with 36.6% of the vote, followed by Kristianson with 26.4%. The other candidates, Ken Tyndal and Nick Force, took 21.7% and 14.2% of the vote respectively.
After endorsing Tyndal in the primary, Rasmussen has endorsed George for the general election.
Kristianson has been endorsed by Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell and Spokane County Clerk Tim Fitzgerald.
While both George and Kristianson grew up in Stevens County, George touts her recent experience working in the county and building relationships over the last five years.
“I know how our county works,” she said. “It’s a small community and I don’t think an outsider can quite pick up the dynamics as easily as it seems.”
Kristianson said his outside perspective is an advantage, given recent disputes between the prosecutor’s office and elected officials in Stevens County. He intends to re-establish collaborative relationships with county leadership.
“I have the leadership experience and ability to bring positive and needed change to the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.
Kristianson has worked for the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office since 2011, where he handles violent offenses with the major crimes unit. He declined to respond to questions about a disciplinary record from Spokane County that includes numerous complaints of misconduct related to his temper.
His prior career as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps gave him perspective and helps him work well under pressure, he said. After his military service, he was inspired to transition to the legal field by the example of his father, Larry Kristianson, a retired judge in Stevens County.
George joined the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office in 2017 as a felony prosecutor in Superior Court and has worked in most departments in the office.
Like Kristianson, George intends to repair county relationships with the prosecutor’s office. Transparency will help rebuild trust with the community, she said.
Kristianson said he will make sure all residents’ concerns are heard and respected.
George wants to refocus the office on prosecuting cases, which she said has not been a focus of the current administration. She said she takes a tough-on-crime approach but also strives to be fair and consistent.
Kristianson is open to pursuing sentencing alternatives to reduce or eliminate prison time for nonviolent offenders while still holding them accountable.
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