Brad Manke’s public response to the contents of Esther Koch’s letter

Publishers Note: You can view the related letter by Esther Koch here.

Apparently there is a letter to the editor in the Loon Lake Times reference my wife Kate and I filing bankruptcy in the past. What the letter fails to mention is when it occurred and the circumstances surrounding it. This occurred almost 14 years ago, was in part the result of my wife’s medical conditions, and was not gone through with.

In the early 2000’s my wife and I were a young couple who were on top of the world. We both had jobs, had recently bought a house, and were enjoying life in the American way with our two young children. After a few years of experiencing what we thought was a great life, my wife began suffering severe migraines, numbness and tingling in her hands and face, and began frequently missing work. The migraines were debilitating and she would spend days on end in bed. There was a time when she missed an entire month of work. All of this time off was unpaid as she did not have enough sick leave to cover it. This went on for several years.

We began to struggle to pay our bills and make monthly payments. We consulted an attorney, who suggested we file bankruptcy. We located a Spokane attorney and he filled out all the paperwork for us and provided the guidance of what we should do. As it turns out, there are multiple forms of bankruptcy. Our attorney filed the wrong type, and when it was reviewed by the judge, it was dismissed. The legal term used for the dismissal was “substantial abuse.” This simply means it didn’t fit the criteria for which the paperwork was filed.

We were now faced with two options. Appeal the judge’s ruling or file the correct form to fit the situation. We decided to do neither. We were already sickened with ourselves for doing this in the first place. We decided we just needed to pull ourselves up by our boot straps, buckle down, and do our best to face our situation head on.

We did not go through with a bankruptcy, and we did not have any debt relieved as a result of a bankruptcy, but the simple fact you filed stays with you. We completely restructured our lives, sold some “toys” as the letter suggests, and dug ourselves out of our debt on our own. I am proud to say that this was a huge learning experience, was a situation that I will never place myself into again, and enjoy a credit score in the excellent range of 760.

After several years of health struggles, my wife finally received a diagnosis for her illness. We were devasted that day we were told that she had Multiple Sclerosis(MS). MS is a potentially debilitating autoimmune disease that can result in death. Although we were devastated, it was a relief to finally have answers so we could address the problem in a proactive way. Fortunately, modern medicine has been working for her, and her conditions have been far less severe in the past few years.

This letter to the editor also addresses my wife’s current position. As the Civil Deputy for Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, she is in charge of civil process to be served by the Sheriff’s Office as well as evidence and property. My wife has an extensive work history working for a title company, as a real estate closer for an attorney’s office, and a tax roll specialist for the Treasurer’s Office. This is all experience that goes hand in hand with the Sheriff’s civil function. She was then hired as a secretary for the Sheriff’s Office through a competitive exam and interview, administered independently by the Stevens County Civil Service Commission, which is completely independent from the Sheriff’s Office. Multiple people tested for this position, and my wife placed in the top. As a secretary, she was often tasked with assisting with the civil department and began to learn that job.

After being secretary for a few years, the assistant civil and evidence position came open. Due to her extensive experience relating to civil matter, she was appointed to the assistant civil position. She worked under the Civil Deputy for a year and half. When the Civil Deputy retired, Kate was and remains the only experienced and qualified person on the department and was appointed to the job for obvious reasons by the Sheriff. This appointment was made on merits only and has nothing to do with nepotism as some would suggest.

Civil process, by statute, is the only function that opens the Sheriff up personally to a high risk of potential fines and suits. It is imperative there is a person in the position that will ensure this doesn’t happen.

I did not hire my wife, and I did not promote her through two more positions, not the giant leap as the letter suggests. She is not in a gun toting, badge carrying position. She has been issued a firearm and a badge, and only carries them when she goes on evictions and assists with search warrants. This is strictly for self defense in these sometimes dangerous events. She has been through the same training corrections deputies have gone through to enable them to carry firearms while transporting prisoners. Most rural counties have Civil Deputies that are not academy certified.

Kate is currently under direct supervision of the Undersheriff, however, the letter’s composer, Esther Koch, is correct in the fact the Sheriff is ultimately the boss for personnel. She is sorely mistaken in the ways she believes the Sheriff can control the money. She also refers to the overwhelming “stench” of nepotism. I’m pretty sure that Sheriff Kendle Allen, who placed Kate in the position she is in, is not related to her in any way. This statement was ignorant at best.

As Sheriff, I would have the ability to remove Kate from the position she is in, however she is still protected by civil service laws and could only legally be placed back into a secretary position. This position is supervised by the Undersheriff, but ultimately the Sheriff is still the boss.

Given the fact that Kate was hired through the Civil Service Process and slowly worked her way into her position, the letter’s composer is highly mistaken in her thoughts and the way she presents it to the public.

Even though I, and most members of the department, feel that Kate is the most experienced and qualified person for the position, we are considering our options if I am elected Sheriff. These options do include her resigning and seeking employment elsewhere, moving back to a secretary position if a more qualified candidate can be found, or remaining in the position she is in.

The issues addressed in the letter have been freely discussed in many forums including candidate nights as well as the Stevens County Republic Central Committee during vetting. They have not been hidden or ignored as the letter suggests.

I am glad this letter was written as it is the first time in this campaign that someone is actually trying to challenge me, the person that signed up to do this, instead of continually trying to dredge up perceived past misdeeds of the current Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office, most of which I had nothing to do with. I am glad the public is seeing through these attacks as smear tactics and vastly irrelevant. Thank you for your support!

Brad Manke

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