Eighteen-year veteran of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office Mary Robnett has announced a bid to unseat her former boss Mark Lindquist.
A notable endorsement for Robnett against Lindquist’s well-funded campaign to stay in office comes from former Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Horne. Horne had tapped Lindquist as his heir apparent but has since been critical of Lindquist’s management of the county’s top legal team.
“Mary is ethical, tough and fair – exactly what the Prosecuting Attorney’s office needs after Lindquist,” Horne said in the campaign announcement. “She’ll lift the cloud over the prosecutor’s office and remove the taint of politics that has pervaded there.”
A good portion of Lindquist’s time in office has been spent dealing with lawsuits, scandals and workplace complaints. Most notable among those is Lindquist’s withholding of work-related text messages that were sought as part of a case against him – that he eventually lost – that has cost county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside attorney fees and staff time. Damages and penalties will likely drive that taxpayer bill even higher.
“I’m going to put the people, the taxpayers, of Pierce County first – above my own interests,” Robnett said. “Mark Lindquist uses his position to promote himself.”
Robnett has spent the last six years in the state Attorney General’s office after being hired by Republican Rob McKenna and promoted by Democrat Bob Ferguson to work as an assistant attorney general in the Sexually Violent Predators unit. Before that however, she spent almost two decades as a prosecutor in Pierce County, including a time under Lindquist.
“We became friends. We became good friends,” she said.
Robnett won some of the biggest criminal cases in the county’s history, including gaining convictions against the Craigslist murderers, Parkland Rapist Frank Nordlund, and Zina Linnik’s murderer Terapon Adhahn. She rose through the ranks to become chief criminal deputy in the prosecutor’s office before she left in 2012 to serve at the AG’s office.
“When I say we need to restore professionalism to the prosecutor’s office, I’m not talking about the deputy prosecutors,” Robnett said in her announcement. “We have some truly heroic deputy prosecutors working hard every day to protect the public, but morale in the office is suffering. I’m running because Pierce County voters deserve better. With management know-how and extensive courtroom experience trying complex cases, I know I can restore trust, run the office in a non-political manner, and free up our deputy prosecutors to do what they do best: Put the bad guys away.”
Robnett began her career as an emergency dispatcher for first responders in two different rural sheriff’s offices, all while putting herself through college. She graduated with honors from the University of Puget Sound’s law school in Tacoma before joining the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office in 1994. During her time there, she twice received the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office’s Prosecuting Attorney of the Year Award as well as the Tacoma Police Department Certificate of Merit. She has since been awarded the Attorney General’s Excellence Award and the Attorney General’s Office STAR award for her work at that office.