'A new sheriff in town': Urquhart concedes to challenger Johanknecht

John Urquhart

SEATTLE - King County Sheriff John Urquhart has conceded to his challenger, Mitzi Johanknecht, after she amassed an insurmountable lead over him in the Nov. 7 election.

In a letter to supporters, Urquhart wrote, "The votes are counted and the results are in. There will be a 'new Sheriff in town,' and I wish her the best of luck."

At last count, Johanknecht was well ahead in the race, with 56 percent of the votes compared with about 44 percent for Urquhart, who was running for a second term in office.

"Obviously we all hoped for a different outcome," Urquhart wrote in his letter of concession. "However, everyone worked very hard, and I am especially proud that we ran a clean campaign that focused on the issues and my vision for the Sheriff's Office ...."

The outcome has surprised many, including Johanknecht. She said she expected it to be close, but had a few “oh my goodness” moments when the results started rolling in Tuesday night.

“I hope there’s a sigh of relief in the organization that things continue to trend well today. I look forward to being their leader,” she said during an interview last week.

The 32-year sheriff’s veteran said she never considered running for office until last spring, when a group of her colleagues came to her with concerns about Urquhart’s leadership.

“We can have a great organization the community can trust us that officers are held accountable, but we’ll do it without emotion, without personal vendettas getting in the way,” Johanknecht said Wednesday.

Johanknecht currently is a major overseeing the Southwest Precinct in Burien. She said she has previously worked in major crimes, SWAT and in the Sammamish office.

Johanknecht said she once supported Urquhart, but said morale has plummeted during his leadership. He also was dogged by accusations of inappropriate behavior in the final week before the election.

In his letter, Urquhart said he is "very humbled" to have served as sheriff for the past five years.

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