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Jon Tunheim

Campaign Statement

I believe a Prosecuting Attorney should be a trusted and experienced legal champion for safe communities and justice. For the past eight years, I have had the honor of serving as your Prosecuting Attorney and am proud to lead the extraordinary team of public servants in the office where I started my career thirty years ago.

While in office, I focused on building strong partnerships with law enforcement, courts, criminal defense, and community organizations. Together, we launched a collaborative reform strategy called “Innovative Justice.” The results: improved services for victims, fewer trial delays, and more diversion opportunities for those with mental illness or addiction.

Today, I continue to work collaboratively to contain costs while improving public safety. I will lead efforts to be smart on crime by prioritizing resources on serious crimes and those who pose the highest risk to our community, while increasing use of prosecution alternatives for those who are lower risk. With your support, I will continue to find innovative ways to reduce recidivism and lower costs while continuing to hold those who violate the law accountable.

Thank you for your support and vote. Together, we can create a safer, stronger and more hopeful community.

About Jon Tunheim

Originally from South Dakota, Jon Tunheim earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics at South Dakota State University and soon moved to Washington to attend law school at the University of Puget Sound School of Law. While in law school, he joined the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a legal intern in 1988. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1990, and appointed as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, serving the office in that capacity until elected Prosecuting Attorney in 2010. During his career, Jon was focused on cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence and crimes against children. As a deputy prosecutor, Jon was a leader in the effort to create Monarch Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center, an organization providing coordinated services to child victims.

Jon Tunheim

Jon is an active member of Washington’s legal community. He is a past president of the Washington Government Lawyers Bar Association and was the first president of the Association of Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys. He currently serves on the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission, the Paralegal Advisory Board for South Puget Sound Community College, and is the current president of both the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (WAPA) and the Washington State Association of Drug Court Professionals (WSADCP).

A graduate of Leadership Thurston County, he served as President of its Board of Regents and supports many other local charities. He is currently the Board President for the United Way of Thurston County, and previously served on the boards of the Child Care Action Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Family Support Center of South Sound.

For his community work, Jon was named a “21st Century Leader” by The Olympian, and a “Champion for Kids” by TOGETHER! He is a recipient of Thurston Community Network’s “Making a Diference in the Life of a Child” award and was recognized as a “Local Hero” by the Washington State Bar Association. In 2012, Jon was presented with the prestigious “Bigelow Award” and named Lawyer of the Year by the Thurston County Bar Association. He was later recognized as a “Champion for Washington’s Kids” by the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Most recently, he was
recognized as the “Elected Official of the Year” by the Foster Parents Association of Washington State. Jon and his wife Marcia, also an attorney, have been married 31 years and have four sons.

Jon’s Vision for Justice

The role of the Prosecuting Attorney has changed dramatically over my 30 year career.  When I first started in the late 1980’s and into the early 90’s, Washington was engaged in the “War on Drugs.”  Tough on crime was the approach, and prosecutors were expected to get a conviction in every case, and seek the highest sentence possible.  “Prosecution to the full extent of the law.”

At first, these policies were working, crime was decreasing.  However, we also started to realize that the tough on crime policies were creating mass incarceration, and along with it, racial disproportionality.

As a result, our new approach to prosecution is much different.  In Thurston County, we call it being smart on crime by “changing our definition of a win.”  Now, a win may actually mean dismissing a case when someone graduates from a drug court or a mental health court.  It may also mean not filing any charges against someone who is not a risk to the community if they agree to engage in case management, treatment and recovery.  We call this model “Risk-Need-Responsivity” (RNR).

Since being elected Prosecuting Attorney, I have strived to be a leader in our efforts to make the criminal justice system better.  In my first term, I focused on improving the system for victims and survivors of domestic violence.  Partnering with the Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk’s Office, and the Family Support Center of South Sound, we opened a Family Justice Center, a place where victims and survivors of domestic violence and their children can go for coordinated support and services.  While we were only the second Family Justice Center in Washington, these centers are now widely considered a best practice for a community response to domestic violence.

In my second term, I continued to build strong partnerships among criminal justice leaders to launch an initiative called “Innovative Justice.”  In the past four years, we have:

  • Constructed and opened a new mental health triage center;
  • Implemented several new programs for those with mental illness or addiction;
  • Created a new independent pre-trial services department;
  • Overhauled our case management protocol in Superior Court to cut down on unnecessary trial delays and resolve cases sooner;
  • Developed a new program called “First Look” which actively moves appropriate cases to diversion or other prosecution alternatives.

In my next term, I will focus on overhauling our bail system.  Currently, whether someone is able to bail out of jail while they are awaiting trial can depend on their ability to post bail.  Unfortunately, this results in people who don’t have enough money being held in jail while others who do have money get released for the same or similar charges.  In a no-money bail system, Judges would be empowered to make a decision about whether someone is held in jail pending trial based on the level of risk they pose to the community.  Eliminating money bail, however, will require changes in law by our legislature, and I am prepared to go the legislature and advocate for such a change.  In the mean time, we can leverage our new pre-trial services department and a tested risk assessment tool to start making bail decisions based on risk.  That will be a good first step toward reforming our outdated bail system.

I will continue strengthening our domestic violence response by assigning additional lawyers and victim advocates to the family justice center.

Finally, I will build a coalition to create a better re-entry process for those who are exiting our jail after serving their sentence.  Research tells us that good re-entry and supervision programs can significantly reduce recidivism, making the community safer.

With 30 years of experience, I know Thurston County’s justice system and how to make the system better.  Together, we can make Thurston County safer and stronger.

The Truth About Our County Budget

Despite the claims of those who do not understand the county’s budget, the county is not in a budget crisis.  Some have claimed that the law and justice system is “bankrupting” the county by consuming 75% of taxpayer’s money.  That is false.  Here is the truth about the Thurston County Budget.

While the county budget is very frugal, it is not at risk of bankruptcy.  Over the past 10 years, all county elected officials have managed their funds incredibly well having ended each year within or under budget.  Many departments, including the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, are actually handling current workloads with staffing levels that are lower than 2008.

In Washington, the costs of law and justice are placed primarily on local government, meaning cities and counties.  Law and justice in the county budget, which includes the Sheriff, Jail, Prosecutor’s Office, Courts, Clerk, and Public Defense, are all funded from Thurston County’s “general fund.”  When the budgets of all of those departments are totaled, about 75% of the general fund is dedicated to law and justice.  However, the general fund is only a portion of the total county budget.  Roads are funded through a special fund which receives money from its own tax levy.  Public Health and Social Services receives a substantial amount of federal and state funding that does not go into the general fund.  Other departments are allowed to charge fees for their services.  When we consider the entire county budget, we find that law and justice is only 25% of the county budget.

We do need to continue to responsibly manage our budgets, contain costs and look for efficiency.  However, Thurston County is not on the verge of going bankrupt anytime soon.

Prosecutorial Standards and the Use of Discretion

In Washington, Prosecutors are guided by state prosecutorial standards in RCW 9.94A.401 through 9.94A.470.  These standards were enacted by the legislature in an effort to promote consistency in prosecuting standards across the state.  The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office does not have separate prosecution charging or plea negotiation standards because we follow the standards set by state law.

In charging and negotiating any case, it is important that a prosecutor have discretion to consider the individual circumstances of the case and of each defendant.  This discretion allows prosecutors to mitigate a charge or a sentence recommendation if leniency is warranted or if it promotes public safety.  For example, a prosecutor may choose to forgo prosecution and allow a defendant to enter a drug court, then later dismiss the case if the defendant graduates from drug court.  Because the defendant is much less likely to commit another crime having successfully completed drug court, the public is actually safer, even with the charge being dismissed.

Rigid prosecutorial standards are a product of the tough on crime era, when elected prosecutors enacted policies to ensure that their subordinates were tough on crime and not entering into lenient plea agreements.  These rigid policies are now one of the factors attributed to racial disproportionality.

In his article in the Michigan Law Review, Jeffery Bellin notes that our nation’s prison population exploded between 1980 and 2000.  He also notes that restrictions on prosecutorial discretion are more likely to increase, rather than decrease, incarceration.  This is because prosecutorial discretion is more often used to benefit defendants.

For these reasons, I continue to give deputy prosecutors discretion to consider the individual circumstances of each case and of each defendant when determining what outcome they seek in a case, and while negotiating the case to that end if possible.  In the end, prosecutorial discretion is crucial to successfully reforming our criminal justice system and reducing mass incarceration.

Activities and Awards

Community Activities

  • Current President, United Way of Thurston County

  • Immediate Past President – Leadership Thurston County Board of Regents

  • Former board member and President – Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Washington

  • Former board member and President – Child Care Action Council

  • Former board member and President – Crimestoppers of Thurston County

  • Former board member – Family Support Center of South Sound

  • Board member and Criminal Justice Representative  – Cascade Pacific Action Alliance

  • Co-Chair of the Thurston County Law and Justice Council

  • Public Safety and Justice representative to the Thurston Thrives Coordinating Council

  • Member – SPSCC Paralegal Advisory Board

  • Member – West Olympia Rotary Club

Statewide Activities

  • Current President – Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (WAPA)

  • Current President – Washington State Association of Drug Court Professionals (WSADCP)

  • Recently re-appointed by Governor Inslee to the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission

  • Co-leading the Washington State Criminal Justice Opioid Workgroup

  • Member, Washington State Essentials for Childhood Steering Committee

  • Former board member and President – Government Lawyers Bar Association

Awards and Recognition

  • 21st Century Leader by the Olympian

  • Champion for Kids by TOGETHER!

  • Making a Difference in the Life of a Child by the Thurston Community Network

  • Local Hero by the Washington State Bar Association

  • Bigalow Award (Lawyer of the Year) by the Thurston County Bar Association

  • Champion for Washington’s Kids by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

  • Elected Official of the Year by the Foster Parents Association of Washington State

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Endorsements

Jon Tunheim is committed to serving the Thurston County community. See what people have to say about Jon Tunheim:

Endorsements for Jon Tunheim

Government Officials
Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General
Kim Wyman, Secretary of State
Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Washington State Supreme Court (Ret.)
Sam Hunt, State Senator
Laurie Dolan, State Representative
Beth Doglio, State Representative
Judge Daniel J. Berschauer, Thurston County Superior Court (Ret.)
Judge Robert J. Doran, Thurston County Superior Court (Ret.)
Judge Richard Strophy, Thurston County Superior Court (Ret.)
Judge Paula Casey, Thurston County Superior Court (Ret.)
Judge Susan A. Dubuisson, Thurston County District Court (Ret.)
John Snaza, Thurston County Sheriff
Dan Kimball, Thurston County Sheriff (Ret.)
Jeff Gadman, Thurston County Treasurer
Mary Hall, Thurston County Auditor
Steven Drew, Thurston County Assessor
Linda Myhre Enlow, Thurston County Clerk
Tawni Sharp, Chief Deputy Clerk
Bette Gould, Former Thurston County Clerk (Ret.).
Gary Warnock, Thurston County Coroner
Ed Holm, Former Thurston County Prosecutor
Joe Downing, Port of Olympia Commissioner
Bill McGregor, Port of Olympia Commissioner
Cheryl Selby, Mayor of Olympia
Mark Foutch, Former Mayor of Olympia
Doug Mah, Former Mayor of Olympia
Jeff Davis, Former Port of Olympia Commissioner
Andy Ryder, Mayor of Lacey
Cynthia Pratt, Deputy Mayor of Lacey
Michael Steadman, Lacey City Council
Rachel Young, Lacey City Council
Lenny Greenstein, Lacey City Council
Jon Halvorson, Former Mayor of Lacey
Virgil Clarkson, Former Mayor of Lacey
Pete Kmet, Mayor of Tumwater
Joan Cathey, Tumwater Mayor Pro Tem
Leatta Dahlhoff, Tumwater City Council
Eileen Swarthout, Tumwater City Council
Debbie Sullivan, Tumwater City Council
Neil McClanahan, Tumwater City Council and former Thurston County Undersheriff
Casey Salisbury, Mason County Sheriff
Chief Jon Weiks, Tumwater Police Department
Ed Sorger, Former Chief of Police, The Evergreen State College
Aaron Jelcick, Deputy Chief, Olympia Police Department
Tim Braniff, Thurston County Undersheriff
Todd Thoma, Thurston County Jail Chief
David Pearsall, Chief Deputy Sheriff and Griffin Fire Commissioner
Ray Hansen, Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy Sheriff (Ret.)
Cdr. John Suessman, Lacey Police Dept. (Ret.)
Mark Thompson, McClane-Black Lake Fire Commissioner
Tina Robinson, Kitsap County Prosecutor
Tony Golick, Clark County Prosecutor
Greg Banks, Island County Prosecutor
Local Attorneys:
Stephen Bean
Dan Berner
Margaret Brost
Julie Carignan
Terry Church
Donald Daniel
Jodi Erikson-Muldrew
Jim Foley
Leonor Fuller
Jay Fuller
Fred Gentry
Jay Goldstien
John Gray (Ret.)
Jack Hanemann
Stephen Henderson
Catherine Holm
John Hough
Charles “Skip” Houser
Rick Hughes
John Justice
Dale Kamerrer
Nancy Koptur
Don Law
Michael Lynch
Hannah McDonald
John McIlhenney
Martin Meyer
Mike Morgan
Nam Nguyen
Charles Roe (Ret.)
Sax Rogers
Greg Rosen
Leslie Seffern
Jonathan Sproffske
Stephanie Stocker
Paul Strophy
R. Alan Swanson
Forrest Wagner
Kathryn Wyatt
Aaron Young
Deputy Prosecutors
Ali Abid
Brandi Archer
Scott Cushing
Catherine Galvin
Wayne Graham
Rosemary Hewitson
Karen Horowitz
Joe Jackson
David Klumpp (Retired)
Jeffery Lippert
Jennifer Lord
Chad McClellan
Elizabeth McMullen
Lindsey Millar
Christy Peters
Elizabeth Petrich
Heather Stone
Cailen Wevadau
Joseph Wheeler
Megan Winder
Olivia Zhou
Organizations

Thurston County Democratic Women’s Club

The Tumwater Firefighters IAFF Local 2409

Thurston County Deputy Sheriff’s Association

Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Association

Olympia Police Guild

Tumwater Police Officers Guild

AFSCME Local 618 (Thurston County Employees)

Friends and Colleagues
Louise Adams
Craig Apperson
Mike Auderer
Shawn Ball
Lori Bame
Kristi Barbieri
Jerry Barney
Patrick Beehler
Paul Berendt, Former Chair, Washington State Democrats
Susan Bergt
Laurie Berryman
Nathan Black
Toni Blanton
Carissa Bourdon
Irene Bowling, Candidate for State Senate
Suzanne Bracher
Marny Bright
Margaret Brown
Taylor Bruce
Gary Burris
Bob Butts
Michael Cade
Tom Carroll
Carolyn Caruso
Richele Center
Capt. Ralph Chappell, USN (Ret.)
Charles Chelan
Barbara Clarkson
Jessica Coen
Monica Crawford
Mariella Cummings
Victoria Cunningham
Liz Davis
Michael Dornfeld
Cheryl Duryea
Madeleine Elliot
Mark Elliot
Jeff Engle
Mike and Tracy Evans
Jerry Farmer
Len Faucher
Jerika Ferguson
Jane Field
Dave Forsberg
Julie Frank
Friends and Colleagues
Christine Garst
Jamie Glasgow
Leslie Goldstein
Gail Gosney Wrede
Michael Gould
Jerry Gray
Dustin Gray
Trish Gregory
Teya Harris
Patricia Hart
Tom R. Henderson
Denise Hibbeln
Lou Hilken
Christine Hoffman
Sandra Hulteen
Matt Huot
Wendy Ireland
Karen Johnson
Lauren Johnston
Roger Jones
Gordon Kirkemo
Linda Kleingartner
Paul Knox
Anne Larsen
Rebecca Larsen
Russell Lehman
Daryl Leischner
Mike Leonard
Stephanie Lindey
Christa Lippert
Sara Lippert
Cecilia Loveless
Rachael Lundmark
Jim Mathis
Willis Mayfield
Tonia McClanahan
Nathan McGee
Kelley McIntosh
Beth McIntyre
Jennifer McMillen
Friends and Colleagues
Alexis Miller
Barbara Miller
Matt Miller
Brian Morgan
Randi Nandyal
Jerry Noviello
Amy Perlman
Paul Perz
Nayeli Pieper
Marge Price
Heidi Prihoda
David J. Reynolds
Chris Richardson
Charles and Julie Rhodes
Scott Royer
Will Saunders
Katrina Wynkoop Simmons
Natalie Skovran
Adrienne Smith
Ed Steinweg
Greg Stevens
Hans Stoker
Eric Sullivan
Marie Sullivan
Barb Thompson
Kirsten Toynbee
Curt Vaniman
Shannon Vernon
Dick Van Wagenen
Kim Wallace
Brent Walz
Chris Wells
Joanna and Mo West
Mike Whitlatch
Amanda Wilhelm
Brenda Williams
Nicole Williams
Lee Wojner
Cyndi and Jerome Zechmann
Lynda Zeman
Maggie Zimmerman

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