After 22 years at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, West Seattle resident Leesa Manion is its leader. She took the oath of office in a courthouse ceremony this afternoon, two months after she was elected with 58 percent of the vote. Manion makes triple history in ascending to the role – as the first woman and first person of color to serve as King County Prosecuting Attorney, and as the first Korean American elected to this type of job anywhere in the U.S. She was introduced by Ann Davison, who made history last year by becoming Seattle’s first female City Attorney:
Davison said their offices would work closely together and that both needed to address the root causes of crime as well as accountability for those who commit it. Manion then spoke before her oath was administered by King County Superior Court Judge Sandra Widlan (the oath is 24:15 into the video):
Manion, who previously served as the office’s Chief of Staff, received two standing ovations during her speech. She warned those expecting major announcements that this was an occasion for celebration – her policy announcements would come later, before the end of this month. Today, she offered words of gratitude and pride, for people from the other women of KCPAO, to her family, including her two children. And in calling for partnership with law enforcement, she gave a shoutout to her partner Perry Tarrant, a former Seattle Police assistant chief, who came forward with a surprise bouquet:
Manion also spoke vehemently about the importance of representation, and about the support and encouragement she has received from the Asian American and Korean American communities. The latter included an out-of-town visitor who spoke last at the ceremony, Jerry Baik, an assistant city attorney in Los Angeles who is also executive director of the international Korean Prosecutors Association:
Baik, whose organization has members in nine nations, hailed Manion as a role model and presented her with a plaque honoring her historic election. “I would not miss this moment for anything,” he told Manion.
Though, as noted, she said policy announcements will come later, she mentioned one gargantuan task she must address, saying the KCPAO has a “backlog of 4,000 charged cases” and saying it would take innovation to deal with that.
She invited those listening – including a crowd that included another West Seattle-residing elected official, County Executive Dow Constantine – to “join me on this journey … (to) build a modern, thoughtful, effective legal system.” Manion succeeds Dan Satterberg, who served as King County Prosecuting Attorney for almost 16 years.