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Selby battles Banks

The race for Island County prosecutor just got interesting.

The man whose office is next door to Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks decided to challenge his boss. Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Steve Selby has worked for Banks for seven years, but now he hopes to unseat him in November. He announced his candidacy as a Republican Friday.

Selby came out swinging. He said he decided to run because Banks, a Democrat, has shattered relationships with law enforcement, driven away deputy prosecutors, allowed criminals’ rights to take precedence over victims’ rights, and doesn’t take on his share of the caseload.

“He doesn’t go to court. He doesn’t have a caseload,” Selby said. “He sits there and takes credit for everything everyone else does.”

Friday, a saddened Banks said he was shocked, especially since Selby told him he decided against running.

“He’s my right-hand man,” Banks said. “We’ve worked so closely for over seven years and he never really voiced any complaints to me.”

Banks admits that Selby is a top-notch trial attorney, but said Selby “is a really good number-two guy.” Banks will have eight years of experience as prosecutor at the end of this term, while Selby has never held that position.

“I still think I’m the most qualified and capable person,” he said.

Selby said it’s frightening to run against his boss, but he feels strongly that a change is necessary.

“It’s getting to the point where every cop I see asks me to run,” he said, adding that people in his office threatened to quit if he didn’t run.

Part of the problem, Selby said, is Banks’ leadership style, which he describes as intimidating. He claims Banks micro-manages and criticizes deputy prosecutors.

“The revolving door needs to be slowed,” Selby said in a press release. “Twelve attorneys have come and gone under the current prosecutor, and the constant training of new attorneys eats up valuable time and money that can best be used to protect the public from criminals.”

If elected, Selby promises to handle a full caseload while managing the office.

In trial, Selby is known for being aggressive and argumentative. He is theatrical in expressing righteous indignation against rapists and murderers. Judges have chastised him for fighting with defense attorneys.

Selby already has a spiffy new campaign Web site at www.steveselby.net. It contrasts his qualifications with Banks’ qualifications.

In his 25-year career as a prosecutor, Selby has tried more than 200 felony cases, including 15 homicide cases. Selby began his career in the Navy. He was a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. His last duty station brought him to Whidbey Island, where he was a prosecutor in the legal service office.

After the Navy, Selby ran a branch office of the Riverside County District Attorney in California. He supervised attorneys and staff while trying cases from the immediate community and crimes committed at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, his press release states.

Afterward, Selby was assistant district attorney of Tehama County in California. He tried the most serious cases with a 100 percent conviction rate for over seven years, while supervising a large staff.

Nearly eight years ago, former Island County Prosecutor Bill Hawkins hired Selby to handle the most serious felony cases.

Selby lives in Central Whidbey with his wife Teriann, son Ian and daughter Emily.

For the next seven months or so, the Island County Prosecutor’s Office will likely be a pretty tense environment with two Type-A personalities vying to run the show.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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