Pete was first elected Seattle City Attorney in 2009. Now in his second term, he is the only elected city attorney in Washington State. His roles include supervising legal professionals as Seattle’s misdemeanor prosecutor and exercising sole supervisory control of all the City’s litigation. Before he was elected, Pete worked in Seattle as a business litigation attorney for almost 25 years. He graduated from Yale College in 1978 with a B.A. in American Studies. He worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., in Washington D.C., before earning his J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984.
Upon taking office in January 2010, Pete dismissed all pending marijuana possession cases and declined to file subsequent charges. He became a primary sponsor of Initiative 502, culminating in Washington’s historic 2012 vote to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use. He has been and remains an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs.
In his first year as City Attorney, Pete also took action to reduce prosecutions of people driving while license suspended, third degree, also known as “driving while poor.” To avoid mandatory deportation of documented immigrants convicted of minor crimes, he further instructed prosecutors to stop requesting suspended jail sentences totaling 365 days. Pete subsequently helped convince the Legislature to limit the maximum jail sentence for all misdemeanors to 364 days, limiting the reach of dysfunctional federal immigration laws across the state. He defends Seattle’s status as a Welcoming City despite Trump Administration hostility.
A champion for police reform, Pete ended a decades-long practice of outsourcing the legal defense of officers to a private law firm. Officers now are ably represented by in-house police action attorneys, as well as outside counsel when conflicts arise. Pete was an original member of Seattle Police Department’s first civilian oversight body, the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, and served as chair for 5 years. He is also a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
Pete is dedicated to making Seattle municipal government more transparent. He recently filed suit against the Monsanto Corporation, seeking compensation for the damage caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial products banned because of their impacts on human and environmental health. Pete is a national member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence and Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.
Pete was born in Richmond, Virginia. The middle child of five brothers, he grew up on a small family farm in Buckingham County, where he attended a public school. Pete and his wife, Ann, are the proud parents of two adult children and live in South Seattle’s Lake-Seward Park neighborhood.