Rantz: Seattle Council candidates say ‘decriminalize’ sex work

Jul 8, 2019, 6:04 AM | Updated: 6:04 am

Labor-backed council candidate Tammy Morales announced on Twitter that she would like to decriminalize sex work in Seattle. She’s not the only candidate.

Morales, a Socialist running again in District 2, explained her position after Mistress Matisse, a dominatrix and owner of cannabis-based lube Velvet Swing, asked if there was a message she could send to a “large and diverse sex work community in Seattle.”

Morales eagerly responded: “Decriminalize so workers feel safe calling police, can access healthcare and banking; protect sex workers by not conflating consensual sex work w/ trafficking; enforce and prosecute traffickers to end expolitation [sic]. Ready to listen if there should be more!”

Harsh reality of Seattle prostitution
Sex workers march to Seattle City Hall

This would likely be a step too far for the current Council, especially given the much more pressing issues facing the city. But, if Morales lands on the Council with activists incumbents Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant, we may very well have to waste our time debating this fringe position. Last time she ran, she narrowly lost, making her the likely front-runner going into the primary.

How do the other candidates in District 2 feel about the topic? I asked.

Business owner Ari Hoffman is very much against the idea.

“We know that Washington state has one of the highest rates of Human Trafficking in the nation,” Hoffman explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Women were recently found in servitude in Chinatown raids. …We know that prostitution rings were being run out of RV’s near cemeteries and near my office in Georgetown. We have effectively decriminalized drug use in Seattle and look what has happened on our streets. To do the same with sex work while our city is grappling with these challenges is naive and dangerous”

Mark Solomon, Former crime prevention coordinator with the Seattle Police Department, takes a different approach than Hoffman.

“I’ve been in many countries where sex work was legal and well regulated,” Solomon told me via email. “Safety was paramount and Healthcare access and STD screening was the norm. Those societies did not collapse. I would support decriminalization. Let’s have the discussion. No tolerance for sexual exploiters or traffickers.”

Chris Peguero, a Seattle City Light employee and candidate, takes a similar position.

Seattle sex workers: ‘We’re not all victims’

“Our campaign is supportive of the decriminalization of sex work,” Peguero told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003 and saw the immediate public health benefits with the decrease in HIV (46 percent) and gonorrhea (40 percent) transmission and acts rape and sexual assault (30 percent). Decriminalization increases trust between law enforcement and sex workers and the ability for law enforcement to prosecute human trafficking. Our campaign believes that sex between two consenting adults should not be criminalized by the state.”

Phyllis Porter did not respond to my email request for comment. Henry Clay Dennison does not have a website so I wasn’t able to reach out to him for comment. I chose not to ask candidate Omari Tahir-Garrett, an anti-Semite who told a local Jewish businessman to “go back to Germany” so that he could “let them Nazis get you again.” I don’t care his position on this, or any other issue.

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Rantz: Seattle Council candidates say ‘decriminalize’ sex work