Bothell PD deputy chief announces campaign for Snohomish County Sheriff

Susanna Johnson

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.

You can learn more about Johnson’s campaign at or on Facebook at JohnsonforSnoCoSheriff.

  1. I am very excited to see Dep. Chief Johnson run for Sheriff in Snohomish County. I’ve watched her both as a citizen and as a member of the SCSO for more than 20 years as she moved from detective to SWAT to Captain. She is smart, inspires, is respected by the rank and file, has excellent leadership skills and is genuinely a really nice person. Wow!!!! Please support Dept. Chief Johnson to be the next Sheriff at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

      1. Because it shows that he is highly unpopular. Most elected sheriffs have never been the subject of even ONE RECALL ATTEMPT.

        1. Because it reminds us the lengths Sheriff Fortney will go to in respect of individual rights of Snohomish County citizens, despite Olympia’s overreach.

          Lovick is among the legislators in Olympia who are now sending a bill, SB 5082, to the governor’s desk. This new law overturns the advisory votes that were implemented through the citizen’s initiative process by a vote of the majority of Washingtonians. Therefore, Lovick’s endorsement is a turn-off.

          I am glad Sherrif Fortney has the fortitude to resist unconstitutional edicts, and hope we re-elect him to continue to do so!

  2. After reading this article, I have no clue what Johnson stands for. Nothing but vague platitudes. No compelling reason to vote for her. The last paragraphs reporting only on Fortney’s (unsuccessful) recall campaigns shows who the reporter/editors favor in the race.

    1. Let’s do remember those Recall attempts occurred during the height of the COVID epidemic. Terrifically difficult to collect signatures when there are no street fairs or ferry signature collection opportunities, and knocking on doors is unsafe.

  3. I plan to vote for whichever candidate appears to be the most capable of hiring the right people for the patrol officer jobs. This is all I care about in a police CEO, which is what the Sheriff is. A very small minority of badly educated, over authoritarian, and lawless policing is preventing a lot of good, honest, and unbiased people from wanting to do police work and that is a real shame that doesn’t work very well for any of us.

  4. Johnson is a weak kneed candidate unable to grasp the need for a strong county sheriff. She is a paper pusher only, with real experience. The county will suffer as does King County with her at the helm. Her opponent, the current sheriff has 100% support from the rank and file. That speaks volumes

    Mike Deacy
    Mill Creek

  5. Is there any indication that there will be some sort of actual debate in this race? We know Fortney refused to enforce some emergency mandates; he felt were unconstitutional. We know Johnson’s credentials and experience look pretty good on paper. That’s all we really know from the article and comments so far. I’d like to know more about these people so I can make an educated vote as to who might do the better job of assuring Sno. Co. Public Safety for everyone. I’d like to know what they are looking for in new recruits and how they feel about protecting human rights as part of the job of law enforcement.

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