Leesa Manion, Candidate for King County Prosecuting Attorney

Leesa Manion, Candidate for King County Prosecuting Attorney

On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Leesa Manion about her campaign for King County Prosecuting Attorney - why she decided to run, her endorsement by outgoing prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg, and the experience she brings with 15 years as Chief of Staff in the KC Prosecuting Attorney’s office. They then discuss the responsibility of the prosecutor’s office in building and maintaining relationships with law enforcement partners, the suitability of diversion versus incarceration as paths in the criminal legal system, and what needs to happen to make prison lead to rehabilitation instead of recidivism. The conversation then shifts to how to balance people’s concern about public safety with trust issues with law enforcement and the court system, the ethics of when prosecutors should turn over evidence, her decision to not seek police guild endorsements, and how the system can do better in advocating for victims rather than re-traumatizing them. The show wraps up with the importance of prosecutor accountability and what is at stake in her race against a seemingly more hard-line and punitive opponent.

About the Guest

Find Leesa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/leesaforprosecutor.


Campaign Website - Leesa Manion: https://leesamanion.com/

“Juvenile division prosecutor defends Restorative Community Pathways” by Henry Stewart-Wood from The Courier-Herald:https://www.courierherald.com/news/king-countys-juvenile-division-prosecutor-defends-restorative-community-pathways

“King County to continue new juvenile restorative justice program, despite pushback” by David Gutman from The Seattle Times:https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/king-county-to-continue-new-juvenile-restorative-justice-program-despite-pushback/

Investing For No Return - Final Report from King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Reentry Summit:/content/files/~public/meetingrecords/2013/cbriefing20130225_4a.pdf

Seattle Community Court: https://www.seattle.gov/courts/programs-and-services/specialized-courts/seattle-community-court

Filing and Disposition Standards - King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/prosecutor/criminal-overview/fads.aspx

“WA prosecutors who withhold evidence rarely face discipline” by Melissa Santos from Crosscut: https://crosscut.com/news/2022/04/wa-prosecutors-who-withhold-evidence-rarely-face-discipline


[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. I am very happy to welcome to the show today: candidate for King County Prosecuting Attorney, Leesa Manion. Welcome to the program.

[00:00:45] Leesa Manion: Well, hello, Crystal. Thank you so much for having me, it's a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:50] Crystal Fincher: Pleasure to have you here. So you have decided to run for King County Prosecutor. What made you decide to run now?

[00:00:59] Leesa Manion: Well, I'm running because I care so much about the work of the office - I care about its importance, I care about its impact on our communities, and I also care about the women and men who have dedicated their careers to public service and are looking for experienced and proven leadership.

[00:01:15] Crystal Fincher: So you talk about proven leadership - our current King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, is leaving the office, but has endorsed you and has worked with you. Why do you think he has endorsed you and he supports you?

[00:01:29] Leesa Manion: I think it is because of my deep level of experience, I think it's because of my proven leadership. I have had a hand in implementing all of the really good reforms that have come out of the office in the past 15+ years that have earned our office a national reputation of being fair, just, and effective. I am definitely a candidate who can hit the ground running - I'm very deep in operations, I also have very deep ties to our community, and I have really good working relationships with our employees in the office.

[00:02:01] Crystal Fincher: So you talk about having a hand in a lot of what has gone on over the past 15 years - what has worked well and what hasn't worked well?

[00:02:10] Leesa Manion: One thing that I think has worked well are all of the juvenile justice reforms that we've made - I'm really proud of the fact that I am a co-founding partner of Choose 180. And I have to say - at the time, Choose 180 was revolutionary in the sense that it was the first time that the prosecuting attorney's office intentionally shared power with community, and allowed the community's voice to shape justice and to be equal to ours. And it led the way for a lot of really good reforms that followed. So I think diversion works really well - it doesn't mean that it's foolproof. We've definitely had some pilot projects that didn't yield the types of results that we wanted, but we continued to refine our process, we continue to refine partnerships, we continue to decide how to offer services in a way that is fully funded and effective.

And in terms of something that hasn't gone well, I would say - everyone has been affected by the pandemic and we, in the prosecuting attorney's office, aren't any different. I think some of our relationships over the course of pandemic have been frayed, I think our relationships with some of our law enforcement partners have been frayed. And if selected, I would be committed to rebuilding those relationships. And it looks something like this - I think that we have to - as an elected, I would have to go to our Police Chiefs and Sheriffs meeting. I've always said to Dan that I thought it was a mistake that he wasn't in the room as an elected. I think, as an elected, you have to be in the room to develop relationships and to be accountable and to build partnerships. So I would be committed to doing that.

[00:03:50] Crystal Fincher: So would you say it's the fault of the prosecutor's office, that there is a frayed relationship?

[00:03:57] Leesa Manion: I think we definitely play a role in it, and I think we definitely can take a leadership role in rebuilding that relationship. And I've been doing that in my current role. For example, just last week I met with our Kent Police Chief and our Des Moines Police Chief and our juvenile leadership team to talk about some of the juvenile justice reforms that have gone on in recent years. And talk about the new juvenile diversion program, Restorative Community Pathways. And that was a really good conversation because we had an opportunity to share information, to air some frustrations, to clarify some misunderstandings, and to really start to build an open line of communication. And I really think that we have a lot of opportunity to do that with law enforcement throughout King County, but also with community partners. I really think that we in the prosecutor's office can serve as a bridge.

[00:04:49] Crystal Fincher: When you talk about that bridge, it seems like there has been some resistance to moving toward diversion, certainly from some entities in law enforcement. We have recently seen an attempt to move some folks away from diversion from the Seattle City Attorney's office. Do you think that there's a possibility that you have of convincing folks like that to move in a different direction and to partner with you in doing that, or do you also see a hesitance?

[00:05:25] Leesa Manion: What I see is a request to partner, I see a request for additional information, I see a request to have a seat at the table to help shape what diversion looks like. And I think that sometimes those questions can be mischaracterized or misunderstood as rejection or maybe resistance. But when I met with law enforcement, I found that they were curious. I found that they wanted to ensure that we were working together. I found that they wanted to ensure that there was some accountability, that if we offered diversion and there were individuals who were not successful - because sadly we will have some individuals who are not successful in diversion, what's the backup plan? What is the next step? What does accountability look like? And I think that we can have those conversations and have some agreed standards of conduct, but in order to do that, we really have to have relationships. We really have to start the conversation. We really have to bring people together to work on a common goal.

[00:06:29] Crystal Fincher: So when do you think diversion is appropriate, and do you think incarceration is appropriate in the cases when diversion is not?

[00:06:39] Leesa Manion: I think diversion is appropriate for low-level offenses. I think that there are individuals, particularly among youth, who make some poor decisions that shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives, that shouldn't define who they are as individuals. And I think that we can offer some services that look like getting to the root cause of poor decision-making, that give them tools, that provide some guided opportunities - maybe job training - a way to redirect behavior into something that's more positive and that also increases pro-social behavior. I think for violent crimes, of course, incarceration is definitely appropriate. I think that most people can agree that homicides and violent assaults and violent sexual assaults are the type of behaviors where we would expect that the individuals are processed through our traditional legal system, and if convicted are isolated away from our community. I think that there are a lot of areas in between where we can talk about what's appropriate for diversion. I think that there are some low-level first-time felony offenses that would be right for diversion as a way to keep people out of the court system and into something that is more effective - whether it's actually more response, not less response than what we're getting through our regular legal court system.

[00:08:13] Crystal Fincher: And one question I have - when we talk about locking people up and putting them away, certainly we need action to make our streets safer - there's a lot going on that is unacceptable and not okay. And it really is helpful to focus on what makes the community safer. So with evidence and research - a large body of research - pretty conclusively pointing towards - when people get out of prison, prison is actually making them more likely to reoffend. If the goal is to prevent people from being victimized, how do you square that with incarcerating people and the approach that we're taking now?

[00:08:58] Leesa Manion: Well, I really think we owe it to ourselves to have an honest conversation about prison reform. I am a strong believer in prison reform. I think that we talk a lot about the Department of Corrections being a place of rehabilitation, but we actually do not fund the level of services that are needed to address trauma, to address substance use disorder, to address underlying health conditions, mental health, or behavioral health issues. And until we get honest about that, we won't actually have the results that we want that help people while they are literally a captive audience, have the tools they need to be released better than when they first entered into prison. I think we have to be really honest about the fact that we have, stepping apart from the criminal justice system but through our legislative process, put up a lot of barriers to people who have criminal convictions or former contact with the criminal justice system. And if we expect people, because we say this a lot - you have served your time - then we have to be honest about the fact that they've served their time, they've paid their debt to society. And not continue to ask them to pay in all kinds of ways that are hidden - that prevent people from getting housing, jobs, access to student loans and education.

[00:10:18] Crystal Fincher: I think that's an excellent point. And given that, I'm wondering - they seem to be not the only ones who are paying, that the community is also paying because they - a lot of people coming out of prison and prison itself makes people more likely to reoffend. So until we have those kinds of supports in place that are consistent with people committing less crime, not victimizing people - does it make sense to put people into a system that is creating victims?

[00:10:55] Leesa Manion: Well, I think it only makes sense if we're willing to make the investments to get the returns that we want. I do think that when people commit violent crime, I do think that our community is asking for safety. I think our community is asking that certain individuals be isolated until they have, to be quite frank, have been held accountable - and sometimes that means punishment or rehabilitated. And in order to have rehabilitation, we have to have services. There are on average 8,000 women and men released from Washington State prisons every year back into our community - and unless we equip those individuals with the tools they need to be successful, they will go back to committing crime to survive - out of trauma, out of poor decision-making, out of criminogenic both behaviors and maybe patterns. And as a result, we are creating future victims of crime. So if we want to reduce crime and reduce victimization, we have to make the investment in prison reform and in re-entry.

[00:12:04] Crystal Fincher: Can you impact that investment from your office?

[00:12:08] Leesa Manion: I was really proud to be one of the key stakeholders behind the scenes in our 2012 conversation around re-entry. Dan Satterberg was the name on the door and the elected official who got people into the room, but I was the person who was helping behind the scenes, put all of those reforms into place to help create our report "Investing for No Return," shopping it with lawmakers and legislators, convening voices to weigh in on recommendations. I was meeting with the Black Prisoners' Caucus at Monroe and solicited from them an unedited chapter into the report, because the men and women who are leaving prison are the experts on re-entry and the barriers that they face. So I think I could, as an elected official, continue that conversation. And one thing about being an elected official is that your voice is given a megaphone and you have the power to convene, and convene really important and necessary conversations.

[00:13:12] Crystal Fincher: I completely agree those conversations are absolutely necessary and it is really important to include the voices, as you have, of people who have been incarcerated or are currently incarcerated. I guess my question is - we seem to be in complete agreement and I think most of the community probably agrees - that the current system is broken and we are in desperate need of reform. Until it's reformed, and even if we're all pushing for that, does it make sense to keep putting people into that broken system? Is there an alternative that you see, or do you feel that we don't have an alternative?

[00:13:49] Leesa Manion: Well, I think diversion, for certain cases, is the alternative that we're all looking for. And connecting young people in particular, or people facing their first offense, into community-based resources - not only is it wise, not only does it help people avoid the criminal justice system and the harmful impacts and collateral consequences of criminal history, I think it's more cost-effective. I think we can also agree that there are certain crimes where, when people are charged and convicted, they are going to go away to prison - and we can still offer services to those individuals. I'm a firm believer that we should be offering services and treatment in our community and our jails and in our prison.

[00:14:35] Crystal Fincher: So you talked a little bit about meeting with different departments across the County. You will definitely be working with all of the cities and the counties. How are you going to approach those relationships? And are you asking any of the cities to do anything different than they're doing now?

[00:14:56] Leesa Manion: Right now, we are starting a new partnership with the Seattle City Attorney's office. And it's really about how do we share information on individuals who are cycling in and out of our system. And some of that information sharing is how do we best pivot those individuals into services. And then for some who are systematically preying on individuals and small businesses in our communities, how do we trade information so that we can hold that person appropriately accountable? Whether it's with misdemeanor filings or with felony filings. And again, it's because our community is asking for us to take public safety seriously. They're asking us to look at behavior and to make it stop, and they're asking for accountability. And accountability for people who are systematically preying on individuals and communities can look one way, and people who are committing non-violent offenses over and over again, out of mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or to basically survive - that kind of accountability can look different as well.

[00:16:03] Crystal Fincher: Well, and that brings up a question. It seems like the City Attorney, even for people who may not be committing crimes against other people, she's looking to remove them or to eliminate the possibility of diversion for those and move in the opposite direction. Are you aligned with that belief? Do you think that's the right approach?

[00:16:27] Leesa Manion: I don't know all of the details of Ann Davison's proposal, but my understanding is that she has it very narrowly drawn - those are individuals who have been referred to the system - I believe it's eight times in a year. That maybe those individuals have been given an opportunity to participate in Community Court, but have committed eight offenses within a short period of time and maybe it's an opportunity to try something different. So I think that having the courage to try something new is something that we should endeavor for. And then we should be willing to pivot if it doesn't yield the results that we want.

[00:17:08] Crystal Fincher: Okay. So there have been a wide variety of challenges when it comes to public safety - crime is up, people are very, very concerned - but also people have issues with trust and law enforcement and in the court system. How do you plan to prioritize truth and justice when sometimes there's seemingly a conflict of interest with your relationship with the police?

[00:17:41] Leesa Manion: Again, I'm the type of leader - I like to identify common ground and build from there. And I think, when it comes to police, I think that there's so much common ground in terms of police reform. I think we can agree that when we are afraid and we call 911, we want a response. Maybe the response is from a sworn officer, maybe the response is from a social worker, but we all know that we want a response. And I think we can all agree that if we have officers who are abusing their discretion, we want them off the force. We want that, and I think the police want that too. So when I think about building trust, I really think, again, it begins with building relationships. And as I mentioned, I'm hard at work in rebuilding relationships with law enforcement. I presently have very deep ties within our community, and what I'd like to do is take the trust of the community, that they have instilled in me, and be the bridge into convening some conversations with law enforcement. And I also know and recognize that there are law enforcement officers who have really deep ties in the community. And so can we work together to broaden that circle, broaden those partnerships, and build trust together?

[00:18:59] Crystal Fincher: There was recently a story in Crosscut by Melissa Santos talking about a challenge and problems with prosecutors sometimes withholding evidence improperly in those situations and that being another issue that is a challenge. It was not about the King County Prosecutor's office, specifically talking about the issue as a whole. Do you see that issue and tension, and how do you approach that?

[00:19:29] Leesa Manion: I am really proud of the fact that we have built a model Brady policy. We take that very seriously and we have a conservative filing policy. We endeavor to turn over all evidence as soon as we are able, and I think those practices should continue. One, it's not just about being ethical. It's also about building trust and transparency into our system. And if we aren't transparent, people will never perceive our office as fair. If they don't understand our decision-making, they will never perceive our office as fair. And tying in this issue of fairness and transparency and also talking about trust and our relationship with law enforcement, as a candidate, I have been intentional about not seeking the endorsement of police guilds and it's not because I dislike police, it's because I fought for resources to create a public integrity unit within the office to look at officer-involved shootings and use-of-force cases that are coming to us as a result of I-940. And if I am endorsed by a bunch of police guilds, it doesn't appear to be fair, it doesn't appear to be neutral. And so I just wanted to explain that because it is another action that goes toward trust. And for some people that might seem like a really small thing, but to me it's a really big thing.

[00:21:01] Crystal Fincher: Are there any other items like that, or within your office, that you feel you can do to help restore trust in a similar way, and in that same way? Is there anything else that you think would be helpful, or that you have planned, to increase the amount of transparency and trust in the process?

[00:21:22] Leesa Manion: I'm currently working with our communications team to create a list of frequently asked questions to put on our website, because there's a lot of confusion about the criminal justice system and the various stakeholders and actors in the justice system. For example, there are a lot of people who are really confused about what's the difference between the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office, the City Attorney's office, the US Attorney's office - and being able to have that information that's readily accessible is super helpful. I'm also a big fan of being really transparent in our decision making. We have long had filing and disposition standards that we share and we share openly, but I think that there are opportunities to invite in media to have them read our FADS, to ask questions. We could do that with community groups as well. I think the more that we can have people understand our work, the more that they will begin to trust the work.

[00:22:23] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. That makes sense. Now, a lot of crimes are currently going unreported and victims are hesitant to report - whether it's elder abuse, or intimate partner abuse, sexual abuse - and a lot of people citing that going through the court system and the process of prosecution and investigation is retraumatizing. How would you handle these situations so that further victimization of people, who've already been violated, doesn't happen?

[00:22:58] Leesa Manion: I really care about victim services. And one of the things that I've done is I've added 10 victim advocate positions within the office, including some bilingual advocates, because access and representation really matter. I've also secured funding and created a Director of Victim Advocacy. And that's with the sole purpose of really examining and really challenging ourselves within the office of what does it mean to be a victim. And sometimes the victim is someone who is going through the criminal justice system, sometimes it is a person who might have one loved one who's being prosecuted by the system and maybe lost another loved one to gun violence. Sometimes victims don't report crimes because they don't understand the process. Sometimes victims don't report crimes because they don't feel that they have an advocate or someone who will respect their cultural difference and their view of our US justice system. Sometimes people don't report crime because they really want something that's more restorative - they're not looking for retribution, they're looking for explanation and healing. And so I think we have an opportunity to really expand how we provide victim services so that it's more culturally responsive, more inclusive, more understanding - so that we actually have more voices from impacted individuals who help us shape what that looks like.

[00:24:24] Crystal Fincher: How would that look different to a victim, or what are you proposing that would look and feel different to someone who has previously been hesitant to come forward or fearful?

[00:24:39] Leesa Manion: Well, I think for some individuals, it might be that they need some reassurance that there are not going to be immigration consequences to them reporting their crime. I think for some individuals they're going to need access to an interpreter because language is a barrier. I think for some individuals, they really want to know what's going to happen to the person that they have complaints about. For example, in the realm of domestic violence, I think that there can be some barriers to reporting because maybe the person who's committing the violence is someone who is the father of your children, or it's someone that you care about or love, maybe it's a young person or a sibling or a child. So how can we take this fear - working with communities, because we really have to rely on our communities to help us build those bridges and also to expand the reach of our services. So how can we demystify the process? How can we make it feel more safe?

[00:25:38] Crystal Fincher: How do you navigate - you've talked about so many societal challenges, so many challenges from the pandemic. We are dealing with a lack of adequate support in - whether it's substance use disorder, behavioral health, and mental health resources - with that and basically putting people in the criminal legal system, who are suffering from other issues that may prevent them from acting rationally and having a calculation that we may think - okay, I don't want to experience consequences, so I'm not going to do this. Not everyone is in that frame of mind or maybe going through something preventing that. How do you handle, or what is your approach to people who are clearly suffering and the root cause of the issue is a lack of a basic need not being met in a different area? We can put them in jail, we can send them to diversion, but until those needs are met, we're looking at landing in the same place. What do you do in that situation?

[00:26:52] Leesa Manion: I think in those situations, we really have to rely on alternatives that are therapeutic. I am a really big supporter of our Drug Court, our Veterans Court, or Mental Health Court. Those are collaborative team models where we have all of the actors - we have the court, we have probation, we have designated crisis responders, we have public defenders, and we have prosecutors - really working together to ensure that the person has access to services, that they have access to housing, that their basic needs are being met, and that they have the supports and the structure they need to be successful. So how can we build more of that? And here's an example of an area that I think I'm curious about and I think it's prime opportunity, but it would require a change in state law - in our Involuntary Treatment Act Court. Right now that's an adversarial model where I have prosecutors representing designated crisis responders and hospitals, trying to get someone committed for services. And on the other side of the table, I have a public defender who is advocating for the release of that individual. And often that leads to nothing and sometimes against the wishes of the family. So if we were able to make that a more therapeutic collaborative model, not only do I think that it would offer better outcomes, we could also use our mental illness, drug dependency tax dollars to support the therapeutic court. So I would really love to work with lawmakers and experts and leaders in this field - to launch that conversation, to see if that's something that we could have happen.

[00:28:39] Crystal Fincher: Should we be charging people with crimes related to possession of substances, or is that more appropriately handled in a different way?

[00:28:52] Leesa Manion: Well, as you know, because of the Blake decision, the possession of drugs was declared unconstitutional. And in our most recent legislative session, it was re-criminalized for a period of a year, but we have to offer two diversion opportunities. I will be really curious to see what that year experiment reveals, but personally I think those are opportunities for us to try to get to the root cause of behavior. And I don't think there's anything magical about a jail cell or a prison cell - because, as I mentioned earlier in this podcast, there aren't enough services to really adequately address the amount of need that we're seeing behind bars. So how can we, in a more cost-effective way, offer those services in lieu of jail or prison, but still meet the desire for public safety, to still ensure that those individuals are stopping their harmful behavior, to ensure that those individuals are themselves safe and not creating chaos in our communities.

[00:30:06] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. Now we have - you talk about being in that conversation about keeping people safe and that being the ultimate goal. Lots of elements in the criminal legal system - you're one of them, you can't control all of them or all of the societal issues that may be contributing to that - but in your role, if you were to be elected as the prosecuting attorney, what changes, could you make that would have the largest impact on preventing people from being victimized?

[00:30:41] Leesa Manion: Well, I really think that again goes to the heart of partnership and it really goes to the heart of identifying common ground and building from there. I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker and that 'Yes, and...' thinking has come to me and been shaped by my lived experience. And I want to share just a little bit of a story and a little bit of my personal story, because it helps explain why I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker. So I know I've shared with others - I was born in South Korea to a Caucasian father and a Korean mother. And when my father brought us to his home state of Kentucky, my mother was met with discrimination and racism. And when I was about four years old, my dad's mother, my grandmother, got into an argument with my mom - threw her out of the house with only the clothes she was wearing. And my brother and I did not see her again for 25 years. And so, that story and that experience taught me a lot about what happens to someone who was marginalized, who doesn't have a voice, who doesn't have advocacy. It also taught me about forgiveness. My grandmother was someone who advocated for me, she shaped me, she taught me about hard work, she loved me, and she was not the sum of her worst decision.

My brother and I grew up in an area where we experienced discrimination and racism - and the disproportionate school discipline, the disproportionate law enforcement contact that so many young men of color experience, my brother experienced too. And when I think about public safety, it means a lot of things to me. It means that we are free of hate crimes that are born out of discrimination. It means that no person is the sum of their worst mistakes. It means that we can offer non-violent young people a second opportunity because sometimes they make really stupid choices. It means that we have to respect that people who live in our community may have experienced law enforcement differently, and we have to build trust, and we have to be able to show that we respect their lived experience before they will come to us with their problems. It also means that we can hold repeat perpetrators accountable, that we can hold violent crime and violent criminals accountable. It means that our victim services have to be responsive. It means that they have to be culturally sensitive. That's a lot of my, 'Yes, and...' So it drives how I approach this work, it drives my desire to create partnerships, it tries my desire to say 'Yes, and...' how can we work together? Yes, we can address the incidents of crime, and we can address the root cause.

[00:33:39] Crystal Fincher: Before we go, also wanted to talk about issues of fairness and frustration that people are having in feeling like - hey, if you are rich or if you're powerful, we're watching you get away with stuff that it looks like other people are not. And that there's a disproportionate focus on people who are at the bottom, people who are struggling or poor or marginalized - while watching people in power seemingly skirt laws without people blinking an eyelash, whether it's watching some Seattle Police Department officers vote from an unauthorized address, or watching text messages get deleted, or watching corporations sometimes flaunt the law and victimize their employees. What can you do, or how would you approach fostering a sense of transparency and fairness as to who you seek to intervene with? Whether they're rich or poor or powerful - are you tracking that? What are your plans? What's your general approach to that?

[00:34:59] Leesa Manion: It really, at the heart of it, is transparency and accountability. And prosecutor accountability in this sense. So that really means, and it starts with how we bring people into the office - what do our job announcements look like? Who has a seat at the table? What characteristics are we looking at? What barriers would be put away so that more people have an opportunity to join the office and have a seat at the justice table? What values do we reward? When it comes to our decision-making, it's really about being very transparent about the disproportionality that's in the system - being honest about that and not pretending that it doesn't exist. But then also inviting others to the table to help us get to the heart of that, and to be really open about what that conversation looks like, what that type of decision making looks like. And it also involves being willing to change our behavior, being able to change our practice around certain areas, and also being willing to admit - if we make a change and it's not successful, then we have to be willing to pivot and try something different. And not hiding that, but really sharing that with our community, sharing it with our law enforcement stakeholders, sharing it with the court. They're all part of our community and we all have to work together to make this happen. It's too important not to.

[00:36:20] Crystal Fincher: It really is. Now you have an opponent who has done some of the things that you haven't been willing to do. He has sought and received endorsements from police unions and from public safety organizations, has taken seemingly a more hard-line and punitive approach - focused a lot on punishment and does not seem to be welcoming diversion to the degree that you do. And just seems to have a completely different perspective. Why, if you're talking to voters, why should they choose you? And what is at stake in this race?

[00:37:04] Leesa Manion: I think the thing that is at stake is that we have this opportunity right now to continue to build this justice system that we should all be proud of. Right now, we have earned a national reputation of being fair, just, and effective. But that doesn't mean that we're perfect, it doesn't mean that we don't have work to do, it doesn't mean that everyone trusts us. So we have an opportunity to build trust. I'm someone who's been doing this work for a very long time. I can hit the ground running, I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker, representation matters - my lived experience matters. If elected, I would be the first woman and the first person of color to hold this seat, and my perspective and my community involvement and the way I build broad coalitions and the way I collaborate matter. And I think that's why people should vote for me because we have this common ground of wanting things to be fair. We want to feel safe where we work, live, and play. We want to be the community that gives young people a second chance. We want to be a community where victims feel safe, and come forward, and report, and ask for help. We want to be a community that is in this together working toward a common goal.

[00:38:27] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for spending the time with us today. We will include links to your website for people who are looking for more information and information about your campaign. And just appreciate you taking time to help us get to know you better.

[00:38:41] Leesa Manion: Well, thank you so much, Crystal. Thank you for having me - this was a pleasure and it was a great conversation. Thank you so much.

[00:38:49] Crystal Fincher: I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - we'll talk to you next time.