Esther Koch regarding Stevens County Sheriff Candidate Brad Manke

Publishers Note: You can view the related letter by Brad Manke here.

Dear Editor,

I had many questions about the candidates for Stevens County Sheriff.  So, I searched the public records.  I discovered that Brand Manke and his wife had filed for bankruptcy in an effort to avoid $45,550 in unsecured debt and thousands more in new vehicles and toys – such as four wheelers and a travel trailer.  The case was dismissed for “substantial abuse of 11 U.S.C. 707 (b).”  This type of dismissal occurs when someone has attempted to get out of paying debts that he actually has sufficient income to pay.  This was alarming to me because our next Sheriff will be managing a budget of over four million dollars.  

At a candidates’ night, I learned for the first time that Brad Manke’s wife also works in the Sheriff’s office.  She started off as a secretary and in very short order was promoted to Chief Civil Deputy, passing over several long-term deputies who were more qualified for that position.  I had to do some digging here, but found out that this position was previously held by an academy trained and duly sworn law enforcement officer.  It is perplexing to me how a secretary can be moved into a gun toting, badge carrying position, without graduating from a law enforcement academy.  This situation is concerning for several reasons, not the least of which are public safety and county liability.  With that appointment, Brad Manke’s wife went from earning approximately $26,000 to $42,988 per year.  She was also given a Sheriff’s Department vehicle to drive back and forth to work.  Take home cars are usually reserved for officers who respond to law enforcement calls, which she does not and is not trained or qualified to do.  Of even greater concern, Brad Manke stated at two different candidates’ nights that his wife is a civil servant and cannot be fired.

If elected, Brad Manke would be his wife’s boss and thus responsible for her performance reviews, discipline, salary (raises), and so forth.  Manke’s insistence that he cannot relieve her from this position because she is a civil servant is incorrect.  According to Washington law, Chief Civil Deputy is an appointed position within the sole discretion of the elected Sheriff, who can remove that appointee at will.  Brad Manke is turning a blind eye to this clear conflict of interest and must be unable to detect the overwhelming stench of nepotism that won’t go unnoticed by the voters.  At best, Manke’s expressed intent to be his wife’s boss indicates a lack of insight.  At worst, it is demonstrable proof of poor judgement.     

Brad Manke’s campaign slogan is “Local Experience Matters.”  More aptly put, the “Good old boy is best.”  My question is, best for who?  Stevens County deserves a transparent, efficient, and professional Sheriff’s Office that protects and serves the public, instead of the personal interests of the Sheriff.  As voters, we have the power to make sure that’s exactly what we get.  Please join me in voting Mike Berry for Sheriff.       

Sincerely, 

Esther Koch

Valley, WA

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