Banks looks for four more years as Island County prosecutor

Greg Banks

Greg Banks isn’t ready to give up his day job.

The Island County prosecutor decided in 2013 that his fourth term, which ends this year, would be his last. But this week he changed course, announcing that he will seek another four years in office.

“It really is a great job,” he said. “We work in pursuit of justice, not in pursuit of profit. I get to wear the white hat and I get to go home at the end of the day and I sleep well at night.”

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown is also running again and said he is glad that Banks wants to stay. In fact, he encouraged him to run again.

“I think we have a very good partnership,” Brown said.

As Island County prosecutor for more than 15 years, Banks successfully handled cases against a half dozen murderers, innumerable rapists, a mayor and one Barefoot Bandit.

His tenure hasn’t been without bumps. Most recently, his office, along with just about every department in the county, faced drastic budget cuts which he said resulted in “intolerable case loads.”

Last year, after handling a particularly grueling double-murder case, Banks said he felt completely burned out and decided he wasn’t going to run for his fifth term. Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme, the second in command, made preliminary plans to run.

Banks said he had a couple of possible job opportunities in private practices and was considering corporate law.

But then it dawned on Banks what corporate law or private practice would be like; it would be a lot of money, but he might not always be on the side of justice.

And things came around in the office. Much of the prosecutor’s funding was restored this year. Banks built an excellent team of young attorneys. Colleagues encouraged him to stay. People stopped killing each other.

“My wife said it would be kind of crazy to walk away from it now after having endured all of that,” he said.

As for Ohme, he said he won’t run against his boss and things are going very well at the office, especially now with the restored manpower. He will continue taking the lead on handling the criminal caseload while Banks concentrates more on the civil side.

“He turned criminal over to me pretty much and I think it’s going smoothly,” Ohme said. “Greg is doing a good job and I’m happy to be his chief.”