Clallam County prosecuting attorney to seek another term

Mark Nichols

Mark Nichols

PORT ANGELES — Republican Mark Nichols will seek a second four-year term as Clallam County prosecuting attorney, he said Thursday.

“I’ve had a number of people ask me if I’m planning on running again,” said Nichols, 46, a Port Angeles-area resident and a former Republican precinct committee officer.

“I figured there’s no better time to declare than now.

“I’m proud of my record. We’ve done a lot to keep citizens safe.”

Filing week for the Nov. 6 general election is May 14-18, little more than seven weeks away.

A half-dozen countywide elected positions such as prosecuting attorney are up for grabs.

Among his accomplishments, Nichols cited adding a felony trial attorney to his staff, increasing the number of felony cases filed by more than 10 percent, reducing the felony-case backlog and expanding services for crime victims and witnesses.

Expansion

Nichols, who also serves as county coroner, touted his expansion of prosecuting attorney’s office statistics on the agency’s website accessed through www.clallam.net and the addition of suicide and mortality information to the online data available to the public and to medical professionals.

In the next four years, Nichols wants to establish a mental health court to address issues confronting those with mental health problems who must cycle through the justice system.

He said funding the court might require a redistribution of existing money, with county commissioners a key part of the discussion.

A Seattle native and graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law, Nichols was elected in 2014, defeating then-appointed Prosecuting Attorney William Payne.

Nichols was appointed chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney in 2006, resigning in 2014 after county commissioners chose Payne over Nichols to succeed Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Kelly, who left her position with one year left on her term.

In 2012, Clallam County paid a $1.6 million settlement to resolve an age and disability discrimination lawsuit that four former prosecuting attorney’s office employees filed in 2009 against Nichols and Kelly in federal District Court.

Nichols and Kelly denied any wrongdoing.

Nichols is currently being sued for unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees in a June 1, 2017 federal District Court sexual harassment complaint filed by former Office Manager Tina Hendrickson.

Hendrickson alleged she was denied a raise after she rejected Nichols “romantic and sexual overtures” beginning in April 2015.

She said Nichols created a hostile work environment that led to her termination following her repeated insistence that he stop making the advances and while, as prosecuting attorney, he was her supervisor.

Nichols said in his answer to the complaint that he told her he wanted a romantic relationship but denied her other claims, including making overtures after she said she was not interested.

An investigator hired by the county concluded Nichols’ conduct “did not constitute harassment or retaliation under the county’s policy,” county Human Resources Manager Rich Sill told Peninsula Daily News on June 9.

A 10-day jury trial begins Oct. 16, the day before ballots are mailed for the Nov. 6 general election.

“I don’t believe that I have done anything wrong, and I am following the process,” Nichols said.

“I have been above board and forthright throughout, and I will continue to be so.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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