#BallotGuide Part 4: Sheriff Part 2
Hashtag is comprised of more than just the two writers you know and...well, "love" isn't the right word. There are actually five people regularly involved in some aspect or another on facts and research and the like. For our Ballot Guide, everyone chipped in on the writing. These are not personal endorsements of any individual, but are the recommendations of the majority of the #Fam. We purposely did not review any uncontested races.Enjoy!
Every candidate, and by extension every voter, has to decide what compromises are necessary to achieve policy goals -- what parts of private morality can be compromised for the sake of public good. In the case of King County Sheriff Urquhart, revelations that have gone wide in the last 48 hours should make that calculation easy for voters.
Yesterday, the Seattle Times uncovered another claim of sexual impropriety by Urquhart dating back three years. The story was as much about how that information failed to come to public light sooner as it was the allegation itself. Brian Barnes, formerly of the King County Sheriff’s Office, leveled accusations against Urquhart for inappropriately touching him. The KCSO settled with Barnes for $150,461. Any such settlement above $100,000 requires the direct scrutiny and approval of the King County Executive. In a highly unusual move, there was an initial $100,000 payment, with the balance of settlement was disbursed sub rosa, in smaller payments beneath the scrutiny of the King County Executive. When asked about this by the Times, Urquhart suggested he didn’t know that payments over $100,000 required the attention of the County Executive, even though he said he was aware of that requirement in a deposition on an unrelated matter dated last year. When asked if he knew that the settlement had been structured in such a suspicious fashion, he said he wasn’t the one who signed it, even though it’s his signature on the settlement agreement.
For a law enforcement officer who has made such a point of disciplining deputies who engage in even the least deception, this is beyond troubling -- it smacks of the kind of “do as I say, not as I do,” management that makes organizations dysfunctional and undermines public trust.
Worse than this skullduggery, however, is another troubling revelation from only two days ago: that John Urquhart offered the medical file of a woman who last year accused John Urquhart of sexually assaulting her when they were both deputies back in 2002. The Seattle Times reported that Monisha Harrell, chair of Equal Rights Washington, was offered the medical files of the accuser by Urquhart’s chief of staff, Chris Barringer, in a phone conversation regarding the allegations.
Whether the offer was genuine or, as Chris Barringer contends, misconstrued, Urquhart’s office has created the conditions for a complete breakdown of trust in his leadership at a time when leadership on issues such as immigration, officer accountability, and expanding Community Health Engagement Centers (aka safe consumption sites), is desperately needed.
It’s entirely possible that Urquhart will still win the election, in spite of these revelations, in which case it’s unlikely he’ll be unlikely to have the leverage necessary to advance any agenda, much less the reform agenda that he and the county would otherwise be very proud of. In the initial endorsement for Urquhart, voters were urged to ignore the stink cloud around him for the sake of advancing his agenda. But you can’t just hold your nose in the face of mustard gas and, as an electorate, we can’t reward the lack of integrity that John Urquhart has evinced during his first term by giving him a second. We recommend holding your nose, and Vote Johanknecht.
Dissent - At least one member would have recommended no recommendation in this race due to Johanknecht's positions on CHECs, police reform, and working with ICE, while recognizing the reported disclosures or attempted/threatened disclosures of protected health information fall outside the scope of decency expected of our elected officials.