Former civil deputy Albert Lin returns to county
Albert Lin, who served two years as Okanogan County’s chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, is returning to the county to head up that office as the county’s new prosecuting attorney.
The Okanogan County commissioners appointed Lin after interviewing him and Jason Moscowitz, a deputy prosecuting attorney for Spokane County, on Wednesday (Feb. 23). Both names were submitted by the county’s Republican Party, in accordance with the procedure in the state Constitution for filling a vacancy in a partisan office.
After discussing the applicants in executive session, County Commissioner Chris Branch said the county had two “very, very good candidates.” While it wasn’t an easy decision, having someone with Lin’s experience in Okanogan County is crucial, he said. “We really, really need somebody right now that can do that immediately,” Branch said.
Lin worked in Okanogan County from 2015 to 2017, providing legal advice to elected county officials and department heads about matters such as land use, contracts, employment and municipal law.
Since leaving the county, Lin has been a deputy prosecuting attorney for Franklin County, where he has handled and successfully prosecuted property crimes, sex crimes, violent assaults and homicide. He previously spent 10 years working for Grant County.
At the interview, both candidates answered the same 15 questions. They also provided written answers to 20 questions from the Republican Party.
Okanogan County needs a working prosecutor with the experience, judgment and integrity to do the job, Lin told the commissioners. He pointed to his experience prosecuting and convicting people accused of serious and violent crimes, including murder, drug-related homicides and property crimes. He also has experience defending people accused of felonies.
The county needs an aggressive prosecutor who’s willing to go to trial, Lin said. He described himself as an established leader who’s unafraid to take tough cases. Being under stress and pressure is one of his strengths, and he handles stress with good judgment and common sense, Lin said.
The Okanogan County Prosecutor’s Office has experienced considerable upheaval in recent years. Lin will be replacing Melanie Bailey, a Republican who was appointed just a year ago in the same process after elected prosecutor Arian Noma resigned halfway through his four-year term. The office is currently looking to fill three deputy prosecutor positions. While Noma was prosecutor, 11 people resigned.
Several of the county’s questions focused on leadership skills and how the candidate would create a positive working relationship and foster the open exchange of ideas.
Lin said he would “lead by example” and work hard for the common good and the people of Okanogan County. His willingness to take on difficult cases — and his positive outlook — will build morale in the office, he said.
Lin said he would communicate and collaborate with other staff members and maintain an “open-door policy.” With two decades of experience as an attorney, he said he has the experience to mentor younger attorneys.
“I’m not a bean counter. I’m a trial lawyer, and I take that very seriously,” Lin said, noting that, with his familiarity of the county, he’ll be equipped to lead and take on tough cases from Day 1.
On the Republican Party questionnaire, Lin described himself as “a law and order conservative Republican who believes in limited government, the Constitution, and a plain reading of text, and that laws are to be faithfully executed. Governance comes from the people, the people elect our leaders, and it is the obligation of those elected to govern consistent with the principles that get you elected.”
In his interview, Moscowitz pointed to his breadth of experience, which he said made him uniquely qualified. He noted in particular the leadership skills he developed as a captain in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years before he became an attorney. Leadership is key to solving the “revolving door” in the prosecutor’s office, he said.
Republican Party role
Questions by Okanogan County focused on day-to-day legal experience, budgeting, and interpersonal and leadership skills. The Republican Party asked about management skills and the substantial workload, and also posed more philosophical questions, including the candidates’ views on governmental regulation, interpretation of the U.S. and state constitutions, and balancing public health and individual liberties.
The party also asked about public carrying of firearms and whether the candidate had “any financial or political affiliation with George Soros.”
The day before the interviews, the commissioners signed a resolution increasing salaries in the prosecutor’s office. The resolution recognizes the county’s difficulty in recruiting attorneys to fill vacancies, the complexity of the work, and compensation for similar positions in comparable counties. Branch called it the “stop-the-bleeding” resolution.
All three commissioners said they were impressed by both candidates. County Commissioner Andy Hover said he hoped Moscowitz would apply for another position with the county.
Lin doesn’t have a set start date yet. He is currently away on a previously scheduled vacation, said Tanya Everett, the county’s human resources director and risk manager. Acting Prosecutor Sue Baur will remain in the post until Lin is sworn in. Lin will have to run for election in November and win to remain in the job.