Major Mitzi Johanknecht, the challenger to incumbent King County Sheriff John Urquhart, won a major progressive endorsement on Monday: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
“Mitzi Johanknecht is an experienced law enforcement leader," Jayapal said in her endorsement statement for Johanknecht. "I am impressed with her commitment to providing all deputies with de-escalation and crisis intervention training, as well as improving the less-lethal tools available to deputies. Mitzi also understands that developing trust with our many diverse communities, including immigrants and communities of color, is absolutely essential and the best prescription for ensuring community safety.”
Urquhart's list of endorsements is much longer than Johanknecht's, and includes far more progressive bona fides. Alongside blue chip Dem endorsements like the King County Democrats, Young Democrats, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, and a slew of state legislators, Urquhart also received the endorsements of Seattle City Council Member Lorena González, King County Council Member Larry Gossett, Public Defender Association director Lisa Daugaard, and the founder of Mothers for Police Accountability, Reverend Harriet Walden.
It's not hard to see why. Sheriff Urquhart has built a reputation for firing deputies over misconduct without hesitation and speaking out against the "blue wall of silence" that protects bad cops. But Jayapal's endorsement follows last week's revelation that Urquhart uses very different selling points when speaking to Republicans.
On October 3, The Stranger published video and audio of Urquhart being asked the same questions by both the 45th District GOP and The Stranger's own Election Control Board. While his pitch to Republicans included boasting about "putting handcuffs on Kshama Sawant" and not hesitating to call immigration officials on certain arrestees, Urquhart told the SECB that there would "never" be circumstances for him to call immigration officials on people he had arrested.
Johanknecht, the first woman to head the Sheriff's Office SWAT team, has criticized Urquhart over allegations of gender discrimination at the Sheriff's Office and has said she is running to bring a culture of respect back to the position. She's received the endorsements of LGBTQ advocacy organization Equal Rights Washington, the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington, and the Seattle Times.