In the past, my perception of Sheriff Adam Fortney and his ideals was from secondhand information, and therefore skewed and wrong. I’m writing this letter as a Snohomish County resident in regard to my experience with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
I have been active in the community combatting the drug epidemic since 2013, personally, and for a nonprofit I run (which is not affiliated in any way with my statement). I struggled with addiction during the OxyContin and heroin eras, and when I overcame, I was determined to help pull people out of the same hell I once was in.
I partnered with the Regional Drug & Gang Task Force up until the former Commander’s retirement. I personally supported the previous Sheriff’s re-election because I was under the impression that his office would still support my efforts in the community. I was also wary of Fortney’s tactics on addressing addiction. I too believe in accountability, but I believe in order to get there we have to actually rehabilitate people, not just punish everyone.
I had lost count of the number of individuals I know who went to jail, detoxed cold turkey, got released, and then overdosed, under the former Sheriff previous to Fortney. I met with the former Sheriff multiple times presenting my program idea to overhaul the jail’s approach on addiction and how I could help fix it. I was willing to step down from my nonprofit role and take on the county jail after he dangled the idea of me running it.
He, the previous Sheriff, asked me what my salary expectations would be and said he’d get back to me. I personally donated to his campaign and showed up to his fundraisers. I encouraged my friends who lean conservative to give a Democrat a chance because I really thought he would help me help people. He acted like my friend, so I fought for him. My heart’s desire was to help give anyone coming into the county jail a message of hope and an opportunity to seek freedom from addiction. I never got the opportunity.
The former Sheriff did not win the election, he unfriended me from Facebook, and I never heard another word from him. I later learned that the former Sheriff actually discouraged his staff from partnering with me because I don’t have a master’s degree in social work.
It took me some time before I was willing to reach out to the sheriff, Adam Fortney. Then I saw him partnering with people in recovery and he made a ton of changes to the jail that were long overdue. I finally contacted him and said, “I was wrong about you,” and I asked for a meeting. When I did finally get to meet with him, I shared my hopes for people struggling with addiction. He shared his views with me and said he was a believer in second chances for those who were willing.
Every single time I have contacted Sheriff Adam Fortney since our first meeting, he has taken action on every single one of my requests. Every. Single. One. He has kept his word and followed through. He has never once given me a reason to doubt what he says.
Still, I am a citizen who believes in fully educating themselves. I learned my lesson about pre-judging the opponent, I wanted to learn more about the other candidate and what she stood for. It’s important to hold opinions until you find out for yourself, as I’ve found out firsthand.
I tried to keep up with Susanna Johnson’s campaign on her Facebook page, and planned to reach out to her and ask my questions, but she blocked me. I never once commented or engaged on a single one of her posts, so I am not too sure why she sought me out and blocked me. Perhaps she saw me share my opinion in another forum and decided I was no good, who knows. It’s interesting, though, because when Fortney was campaigning against the previous Sheriff, I regularly commented on (heckled) his posts and he actually responded to me respectfully and not combative at all. Never once did he block me, though he probably should have.
This election is different; I have firsthand experience and I am educated on both candidates. From my perspective, I don’t know how Johnson plans to work with people who have a different opinion than her if this is how she operates. I have little confidence that she’d partner with me now. There is no room for this behavior when lives are at stake.
I cannot imagine going back to where we were four years ago. I am deeply concerned with losing the momentum and progress for cracking down on fentanyl. So that my party preference isn’t assumed, I vote for who I believe will get the job done; I’ve voted both [D] and [R], even [I] sometimes.
The Sheriff’s position is supposed to be bipartisan, but unfortunately the two previous Sheriff’s to Fortney, and the current opponent to Fortney, have proven that to be untrue. In this case, Fortney’s already been doing the job. What’s been accomplished in the last four years speaks for itself.
I want to help move this community forward from the drug crisis we’ve been facing for the last decade, especially for my children and their generation. Fortney has made this his personal mission, and I hope the community keeps it that way. We can’t afford to go backwards.
Lindsey Arrington, Everett
DISCLAIMER: The views and comments expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Lynnwood Times nor any of its affiliates.