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Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Race Expected To Be Close

Paula Wissel

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist is facing a challenger for the first time since 2010. Running against him is Mary Robnett, an Assistant Attorney General in the Sexually Violent Predators unit. Robnett finished ahead of Lindquist in the primary, and the election is expected to be tight.Lindquist Says Ethics Complaints 'Come With The Job'

Lindquist has had his share of controversy, from ethics complaints to a fight over his refusal to release work-related text messages from his personal cell phone. In a case that went to the Washington Supreme Court, Lindquist was forced to disclose the messages under the state’s Public Records Act.

On Dec. 10, Lindquist faces a Washington State Bar disciplinary hearing over a complaint of professional misconduct that was filed after Lindquist appeared on a cable television program to talk about a murder case his office was in the middle of trying.

Lindquist dismisses any concerns about his conduct, saying complaints come with the territory when you are a Prosecuting Attorney. And, to charges that he is too self-promotional, Lindquist says part of his job is to be out in public. He says prosecutors have to change with the times and part of that change is better communication.

“So, I’m public, my leadership team is public, our office is public. We are very accessible to the community and I actually constantly receive compliments about how approachable and accessible I am,” Lindquist said  

Lindquist says he’s done right by his constituents in Pierce County by focusing on more than just convictions.  He says criminal justice reform is also a goal and points to his support for “therapeutic alternatives” including drug courts, mental health courts and veterans courts. He says fighting elder abuse is becoming a major focus as well.

Mark Lindquist interview with KNKX Reporter Paula Wissel.

Robnett Says A Prosecuting Attorney Should Be Professional and Non-political

Mary Robnett, who worked under Lindquist until 2012, says her primary concern is that Lindquist has made the office too political. The office is a partisan position and Lindquist is a Democrat. But Robnett listed herself on the ballot as “non-partisan.”

“I believe anybody who’s coming into contact with the Prosecutors office, whether they’re the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime or accused of a crime or family of any of the above should feel like they’re getting a non-political, non-partisan treatment,” Robnett said.

Robnett’s primary argument is that she’ll restore “professionalism” to the office.  

Robnett also points to her skills as a prosecutor. By the time she left the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office in 2012, she had worked her way up to head of the Criminal Division. She prosecuted some of the highest profile murder cases in Pierce County, including the Zina Linnik murder case in 2008 and the “Craigslist” murders in 2010. She says in both cases the perpetrators were sentenced to prison for life.

Mary Robnett interview with KNKX Reporter Paula Wissel.

Both Robnett and Lindquist Have Endorsements, Money

Although Lindquist has the endorsements of a number of high profile democrats, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Robnett, who is a first time candidate, won the endorsement of the News Tribune.

The race is expensive for a countywide election. Together Robnett and Lindquist have spent nearly $400,000 on the campaign.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.