Susanna Johnson has announced she will be running for Snohomish County Sheriff in the 2023 election, challenging first-term incumbent Sheriff Adam Fortney.
A Lake Stevens resident, Johnson worked for 30 years at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and now serves as deputy chief at the Bothell Police Department. She began her career as a patrol deputy and worked in a variety of roles over the years including as a K-9 handler, narcotics detective and SWAT member. She also was the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office first female patrol captain.
“Integrity and a service mindset are key to building safe neighborhoods and strong communities,”Johnson said in a press release announcing her candidacy. “From my first days as a patrol deputy to my time as a SWAT squad leader, I learned how to use tactics and respectful communication to effectively improve and secure public safety. As I rose through the ranks to the position of Bureau Chief, I learned the leadership skills necessary to support and develop staff, and create meaningful partnerships to better serve our residents of Snohomish County.
“I am honored to work in law enforcement and feel my passion, character, and experience is what the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office needs right now,” she continued.
Johnson is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a recipient of meritorious and distinguished service medals.
Johnson received the endorsement of two former Snohomish County Sheriffs — John Lovick, a Washington state senator who served as sheriff from 2008-13, and Ty Trenary, who held the job from 2013-2020.
“Snohomish County needs an experienced leader to step up and lead the sheriff’s office during this critical time for the law enforcement profession — to recruit new deputies and keep the best working in our communities,” Lovick said. “Johnson is the law enforcement leader Snohomish County needs.”
Added Trenary: “Johnson truly cares about people. She builds long-lasting relationships with staff and the community that are based upon trust and mutual respect.”
Johnson said that she has drawn on her past experience with the agency to establish guiding principles for leading the law enforcement agency with over 800 employees and a diverse group of departments and units — from corrections to search and rescue.
“As sheriff, I would lead by example to ensure the deputies, corrections deputies, support staff and volunteers embody the characteristics necessary to improve safety and sustain public trust, by adhering to strong ethical values and transparent accountability,” Johnson said. “I am committed to providing professional public safety services with respect and humility, setting expectations that are clear, standards that are high, and actions that are free of bias.”
Incumbent Sheriff Adam Fortney, who was elected in 2019, was the target of two recall efforts launched after he questioned Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 orders. One of the recall organizations didn’t gather any signatures. The second, launched by a group of attorneys in Everett, alleged that the sheriff had “incited” people not to follow Inslee’s “Stay Home-Stay Safe” COVID-19 orders, and that he had also said he would not enforce the Governor’s order, which is different from the incitement charge. The campaign also charged that Fortney violated his duties and unreasonably used his discretion to rehire three deputies that the previous sheriff had fired for misconduct.
The second recall campaign fizzled after organizers did not submit any signatures by the March 2021 deadline, citing pandemic restrictions that hamstrung their signature-gathering efforts.