Richey campaign - the echo chamber

Byy On

The election of a new county prosecuting attorney is without question the most important elected position this year. The prosecuting attorney is one of the most powerful people in our county, if not the most powerful. But attending a political forum and listening to Eric Richey and James Erb feels eerily like being in an echo chamber. Whatever City Attorney Erb says, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richey then says. Erb filed early, on a mission to reform our county prosecutor’s office of the often absurd and overreaching prosecutions of minorities and vulnerable people. Erb was part of the county reform movement that helped defeat the $100 million jail bond - twice. It was the bond the prosecutor’s office helped craft and push at voters. Erb has already “walked the walk” and so has credibility that he will reform the prosecutor’s office.

Listening to the two candidates, it seems like Richey is mimicking or repeating what Erb says and stands for. Well, according to several sources, this is exactly the strategy one of his principle campaign advisors is directing him to do: Repeat all the reforms that Erb states - and nothing more. Why? To create confusion in the minds of voters. Because Richey has, for many years, been embedded in the leadership of the county prosecutor’s office. And Richey is thus complicit and responsible for so much of what we voters want to move away from. Richey is part of the problem. So confusion works for him in the campaign.

A touch of evidence for how Richey has flip-flopped in his statements about the prosecutor’s office: In August 2014, he was interviewed on KMRE radio and asked if there were any things - any at all - that could be improved in the prosecutor’s office. He stated there was nothing to improve. All was perfect. McEachran was an awesome boss.

Listen to an outtake of 2 minutes in length. Or, listen to the entire half hour interview by scrolling halfway down the page in this link to “Criminal Law and Law Enforcement.” You will hear and be able to determine that the outtake is in context. The outtake is just past the half way point of the audio.

In 2014, Richey thought all was “just great” in the prosecutor’s office. Not a single suggestion for change or improvement. Now, in the election campaign, with nothing he can say without speaking against his own 25 years as a key member of that prosecution team, Richey is simply echoing whatever reforms James Erb promises. Richey’s words - and ideas - are not his own.

The primary election will not determine our next prosecuting attorney. But it is important for all those wanting reform in the prosecutor’s office. Eric Richey has been one of the proponents of this sad system for many years. And the radio interview clip is solid evidence of that. We need James Erb to do well and show he can win in November. James Erb will change the culture of quick mass prosecutions, mass jailing, and criminalization of non-criminals.

Vote for James Erb for Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney in the primary and general elections. James Erb is our hope.

Attached Files

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Dianne Foster

Jul 26, 2018

Well-said John!   Was looking for those exact words,  but you did it all for me….


Robert Leib

Jul 27, 2018

Excellent John!  We need to motivate the voters to understand that voting down the jail was just one part of the actions needed.  We now need a change of guard to insure we don’t get another guy like McEachran in there that wants to feed the system any way he can.  By using diversionary tactics and stopping the use of bail on so many cases, we can finally move forward on this import issue.  Please vote for James Erb!



Jon Humphrey

Jul 27, 2018

After listening to the interview above I solidified my view that James Erb is the only choice. There were several distrubing things in the interview, but I’ll only comment on one since it seems to apply to governments everywhere I’ve lived in the country. There are too many people that get government jobs based on back sratching, nepotism, and favors owned, instead of through actual work. Richey’s gushing over the comradery that exists among many of the officials in our unjust justice system tells me that from their standpoint they see nothing wrong with the current system. People like Richey have simply been  doing it wrong for so long, and patted on the back for doing so, that they can’t adjust to the demands of a new way of thinking, and will fight to keep the status quo. The expectation of work to be done on a daily basis is usually also very low among these folks. 


David Camp

Jul 29, 2018

Richey is the designated successor of the massive jail promoter, our current prosecuting attorney Mr. McEachran. This alone should disqualify him. Thanks, John, for providing more reasons to select Mr. Erb.


Wynne Lee

Jul 30, 2018

I listened to the 2014 interveiw, as well as to Cascadia News Network’s separate May 2018 intrviews on KMRE with Richey and Erb.  One thing I found disturbing in Richey’s interview ( was his repeated strong assertion that the Prosecuting Attorney’s office has absolutely zero role in policy decisions in the county, that the Exec and County Council are always the sole deciders. He repeatedly states that the all PA office does is merely ‘tell them what the law says’ (as though laws are purely White and Black).  While he’s letter-of-the-law correct, it totally hand-waves away so many realities of How Things Actually Get Done in our - as in any - political system.

Richey also downplayed the importance of the PA office’s crucial role in WC’s many civil law cases. Unfortunately the CNN interviewer didn’t push that issue. I’d like to have heard, for  example, about the clearly poor PA office’s civil legal advice on the first jail /electioneering flyer (a silver lining, perhaps, was that voter outrage about that flyer probably contributed the 1st BigJailFail ballot loss).  I’d also like to know why we taxpayers have had to keep paying for external lawyers (who keep losing) land use cases - after all, the GMA was passed in what, 1992?  93? So our chief PA has had over a quarter of a century to get at least one adequate civil land use lawyer on his staff who the CC would respect enough to use instead of (or was advised to?) hiring out-of-county lawyers.  Yet Richey sees… NOTHING wrong with the PA’s office civil law performance, has zero ideas for anything that should be changed even a smidgeon?  Pretty lame, though predictable given his lack of experience in civil law or apparent appreciation of its real importance in Whatcom County’s  citizens’ lives.


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