April 23, 2004

Sheriff Dave Reichert (R WA-8th CD)

First in a series of interviews with the candidates for Washington state's 8th Congressional District.

When asked why he’s running for congress, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert will say he’s interested in having a “broader impact beyond public safety.” This is his 33rd year in the Sheriff’s office, and to him, “it seems like a natural progression.” He says he likes to turn the question back around, asking audiences why they’d give up their time to hear him speak.

Reichert says his three decades in the Sheriff’s office have shown a history of leadership, and given him a special insight into the needs of the community. He’s seen the problems of every type of neighborhood in the county up close, from the wealthiest to the poorest.

Reichert’s ongoing work coordinating local and federal law enforcement priorities will give him an advantage when it comes to homeland security policy, he says. He also believes that he’ll be able to make policy decisions without the “baggage” of wealthy special interests.


Reichert says education is important for promoting employment and keeping people out of crime and poverty. He said it’s important to address these problems “at the front end, rather than the back end,” by decreasing the need for rehabilitation in the first place.

Education funding, says Reichert, should mostly be the concern of the state governments, and he’s a supporter of charter schools. He opposes unfunded federal mandates, having seen the problems they create for local governments.


To help the economy, Sheriff Reichert believes in decreasing regulations on business and increasing efficiency in government.

He proposed putting services like public transportation and law enforcement into regional administration. He believes that it would be a good way to save on administration costs, eliminating redundancies. The main obstacle to such a plan, as he said, would be turf war controversies in local government.

He stated that some cities might be able to save between 30-50% on law enforcement costs by centralizing services. The King County Sheriff’s department, for example, saves money by allowing reports to be collected by phone when there’s no evidence to collect. Such a service could be shared over a larger region.

Church and State

Dave Reichert’s positions on abortion and gay rights would be at home in the most conservative religious circles. But they aren’t as rigidly ideological as that suggests.

He says his opposition to abortion stems from retrieving around 200 dead bodies in his career. When it comes to pregnancy prevention, he favors abstinence only education. Reichert believes he has an answer for unwanted children. His family adopted, and his daughter continued the tradition.

He doesn’t believe in formal recognition of any kind for gay relationships. To correct some of the legal hurdles this can create for gay couples, he favors changing the law so that “everyone has the same rights.”

When Sheriff Reichert visits his grandchildren’s preschool, he sees a community with a more diverse and multicultural future. He says that while he lives his own Christian beliefs, everyone has a right to free choice in religion, and that it’s very important to keep government and religion separate.

Freedom of Expression

When the World Trade Organization came to town in , Reichert was worried about the possibility of trouble. Sheriff’s department intelligence units had infiltrated “anarchist training grounds” where some groups were preparing for the planned mass demonstrations. He had units standing by to help, even though city leaders said that they would be unnecessary.

As it turned out, the ensuing riots started by a few of the participants badly stretched the county’s police forces. While riding with County Executive Ron Sims during the riots, he ended up being the only officer available to respond to an opportunistic break-in at a Radio Shack, chasing the would-be robbers away on foot.

It isn’t surprising to hear that a long-time sheriff strongly favors law and order. He publicly disagreed with Mayor Nickels’ criticism of police behavior during the protests, but at the same time, he took a harsh stand against an officer that he felt crossed the line.

A volunteer medic with one of the protest groups was filmed being kicked by a policeman from behind while kneeling on the ground. Reichert fired the offender immediately. The officer was reinstated by court order, but Reichert said that firing him was the right thing to do. He says that while it’s important to make sure that one person’s freedom of expression doesn’t interfere with the freedoms of others, you don’t end up with a police state.

When it comes to the PATRIOT act, he supports it, for now. The bill included communication reforms between federal law enforcement agencies, but other provisions are more controversial. Parts of the law that granted federal law enforcement officials the authority to inspect library and financial records without notice, or a court order, have some people worried.

Sheriff Reichert says that while we’re at war, he supports whatever measures can help keep us safer. He also believes that these types of laws should be allowed to expire.

The Outside Perspective

Karen Marchioro, a Democrat, ran Reichert’s campaign for King County Sheriff. She said that he was the clear choice in the race for Sheriff, where he ran as an independent, but also that it could be hard for him to manage running for congress while holding that job.

Ms. Marchioro admired what she called a responsible position on gun control. She said that as a Republican, his law enforcement background helps him in a party that traditionally takes an undiluted pro-gun position. “He knows,” she said, “what it’s like to respond to a domestic violence call when there’s a gun involved.”

Sheriff Dave Reichert is running as a Republican for election in Washington State's 8th Congressional District. To find out more, visit his campaign website.

Posted by natasha at April 23, 2004 06:17 AM | WA Politics | Technorati links |

Natasha, where did you get this information about Reichert?

Posted by: Brian at May 9, 2004 10:44 AM