(The Center Square) – A Tri-Cities attorney who serves on the Pasco City Council and has represented a conservative nonprofit organization in legal challenges to Washington state’s gun laws and COVID-19 health mandates has announced his candidacy as a Republican for state attorney general.
In a press release Tuesday, Simon Peter “Pete” Serrano said, “Washington state is in trouble.”
“While I disagree with several laws in this state, as Attorney General, it will not be my job to pick winners and losers,” said Serrano. “I will use all the resources available to defend the Constitution and the Constitutional laws of the state. I will provide a much-needed check on government overreach.”
Serrano, 43, said the “days of emergency orders are over – they will be scrutinized and litigated if any office oversteps the bounds and duties as provided by the state’s constitutions and laws.”
Serrano alludes to emergency orders imposed by Gov. Jay Inslee and the state’s health officer during the pandemic, which included initially closing businesses and schools and requiring masking and vaccinations in many instances. State courts have consistently upheld the directives as lawful.
In a campaign announcement, Serrano said he was first licensed to practice law in 2010 and has continued since moving from the Sacramento area to Washington state in 2015, bringing “deep experience in litigation, environmental law, and government agency law … (which) provide him a balanced approach that will allow him to represent Washingtonians as the next Attorney General.”
If elected, Serrano said he intends to address criminal activity, claiming it is at “an all-time high” in the state.
“Fentanyl overdose deaths are skyrocketing and ripping communities apart. And no one is doing anything about it,” said Serrano. “As Washington’s next Attorney General, I will make it my number-one job to ensure criminals are prosecuted, drug dealers are incarcerated and our police officers know the state’s top cop has their back.”
As a Republican, Serrano is among the candidates seeking to succeed current Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat who is running for governor this year with Inslee departing when his current term expires at the end of December.
Along with Serrano, the current field of declared attorney general candidates includes Yakima attorney Elizabeth Hallock, who is listed as an independent in her filing with the state Public Disclosure Commission, and two Democrats – state Sen. Manka Dhingra of Redmond and former U.S. Attorney Nick Brown of Seattle, who has been endorsed by Inslee.
According to the PDC, Dhingra and Brown both show over $500,000 in campaign contributions to date; Hallock and Serrano currently have none listed.
Serrano, who is married with three children, has served on the Pasco City Council since 2018 and was elected mayor by his fellow council members on Tuesday. He has also been involved with the Silent Majority Foundation, a conservative nonprofit which has filed legal challenges against gun control measures enacted by the Washington Legislature along with COVID-19 orders and vaccine mandates.
Serrano spoke about his candidacy in an online video earlier this week.
Among its responsibilities, the Washington Attorney General’s Office advises state officials on legal issues, provides written opinions at the request of designated public officials, represents the state and employees acting in their official capacities in court cases, and upholds the Consumer Protection Act and enforces laws against anti-competitive business practices. The position carries a four-year term with an annual salary of $187,543.