EVERETT, Wash. – A political newcomer never before holding public office has been elected to serve as Snohomish County sheriff.
Sheriff’s deputy Adam Fortney, a husband and father, resoundingly beat the incumbent Ty Trenary in an upset Tuesday night.
“When I first got into it, I think people thought one, I don’t have a shot, two, you’re just a disgruntled employee and you’re just mad at the sheriff for what he’s done,” said Fortney. “It couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Fortney is a cop on the beat working the night shift, but he believes his message resonated with voters looking for a return to law-and-order in the North Sound.
“I think there’s been, my opponent would disagree with this, a lack of enforcement for the last six years,” said Fortney. “I just came along saying, you don’t need to be a public safety expert, drive around our county and see that something’s off a little but, something’s not working.”
Like the rest of western Washington, Snohomish County has been in the grasp of an opioid crisis.
Combined with perceptions of increased petty crime and repeat offenders, Fortney’s supporters may have sensed a need for new leadership.
“Repeated break-ins, a lot of vandalism to customer’s cars, so that’s not a nice friendly, ‘Hey, let’s go to Lombardi’s and dine and have our car broken into and things stolen,” said Fortney supporter Kerry Lonergan-Dreke.
Lonergan-Dreke runs multiple restaurants across the region and she endorsed Fortney for sheriff.
She believes he can do more to tackle homelessness and addiction.
“It’s inhumane for us as a society for us to allow these people to continue to be on the street, because they are not there out of their own choice,” she said. “I mean, they’re mentally ill, they don’t know what’s going on. That’s a small part of our homeless population, but in my experience, they are drug addicts who refuse to get treatment and they’re making life difficult for all of us.”
Incumbent Sheriff Ty Trenary conceded his election Tuesday night. While he didn’t respond to requests for interviews Wednesday, he told Q13 News on election night the opioid crisis likely helped him lose his re-election bid.
“I think people are frustrated by the opioid crisis. I think they’re frustrated with what they see in counties surrounding us and I think they are tired of inaction,” said Trenary. “Unfortunately, a change in sheriff isn’t going to fix that, but I think it’s a good edict for my successor to focus on communicating with the public and working through these issues.”
While Fortney says he supports Trenary’s efforts, he intends to make sure misdemeanor crimes aren’t ignored, that repeat offenders spend time in jail for their crimes but also get help if they want it.
And above all, he says he respects those he will now lead who may have voted for the incumbent.
“We definitely had passionate supporters on each side. I made a promise to myself it was not going to be personal with me. I had a message I was going to bring to community and police,” said Fortney. “It’s just, you can’t take this personally and that takes a lot because you’re bringing your values and messages, but so was he.”
“The persons in the organization who supported my opponent, good for them. I ‘m glad they were involved. I completely respect their position. There will be no vindictiveness, no anything like that. I just want to make sure that’s clear, because that can happen in an organization. It will not happen on my watch. I can’t wait to hear from them and work with everybody,” said Fortney.
The full Q13 News interview with Fortney can be seen here.