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 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.