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Fuller named Acting Prosecutor by county commissioners

MONTESANO — Gerald Fuller officially became the Acting Grays Harbor County Prosecutor, effective 5 p.m. on Monday.

The county commissioners unanimously appointed Fuller, the Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor, to the position Monday afternoon, following the official retirement of Prosecutor Stew Menefee. The commissioners’ official resolution notes that the absence of a prosecuting attorney “threatens the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Grays Harbor County.”

State law allows Fuller to act as prosecutor until a permanent replacement is found. The resolution notes that Fuller has been granted the “authority to perform all necessary duties and continue normal office operations and to serve until a successor is appointed as required by law.”

Neither Fuller nor Menefee attended Monday’s county commission meeting. Fuller took a few days off and Menefee was preparing to leave the office.

County Commissioner Frank Gordon lauded the accomplishments of Menefee, who served in the Prosecutor’s Office for nearly 34 years.

“He will certainly be missed,” Gordon said.

At this point, two candidates have emerged for the appointment — Deputy Prosecutor Katie Svoboda and former prosecutor Michael Spencer. Because Menefee is an elected Democrat, the Grays Harbor Democrats will meet next week to figure out their top three picks to replace Menefee.

The county commissioners would then choose their favorite from the list.

Gordon says he’s talked to both Spencer and Svoboda. Cormier says he’s just had a chance to meet Svoboda, but not yet Spencer. Welch was unavailable Monday afternoon.

“I think having a public interview process may make sense in this case,” Cormier said. “Maybe the public would like to hear from their future prosecutor.”

Fuller is not seeking the permanent replacement.

Menefee had supported Fuller for the temporary spot.

“The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office needs to have an experienced prosecutor with intimate knowledge of the operations of the office to keep it functioning in the interim period between the vacancy and appointment of a successor to complete the current term,” Menefee wrote to the county commissioners, requesting Fuller be appointed to the job.

“Mr. Fuller has been a prosecutor for more than 30 years and has worked in the office, both as a deputy and as a chief deputy, most of that time. Additionally, Mr. Fuller has indicated that he does not have an interest in a full appointment and is willing to act in a temporary capacity until the Board makes a full appointment.”