Seattle mayoral candidate: Challengers should support defunding SPD ‘or drop out’

Apr 16, 2021, 2:34 PM | Updated: Apr 19, 2021, 7:28 am
SPD reports, defund SPD...
Demonstrators hold a rally and teach-in outside of the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct, which had been boarded up and protected by fencing, on June 8, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The future of policing in Seattle has become one of the central debates for candidates running for mayor in 2021. So, where do they each stand on the future of SPD?

Trio of mayoral candidates jump out to early fundraising lead

On Thursday, one of those candidates — Andrew Grant Houston — offered an ultimatum to his fellow challengers: either support defunding the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%, or “drop out.”

Houston’s campaign issued his challenge in an open letter, calling on “all candidates in the race for Seattle Mayor to propose more than just fixing what is an inherently broken system of policing in our city and beyond.”

Last summer, seven of nine sitting Seattle councilmembers — including current mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez — voiced their support for cutting SPD’s budget in half. In the months that followed, that fervor died down amid a lengthy battle within City Hall, with the council eventually committing to less dramatic reductions.

Houston cited that in his letter, pointing to “candidates who, with direct influence over SPD’s budget, committed to defunding by 50% only to walk back their statements when it was no longer trendy to lay claim to the hashtag.”

“SPD’s budget is nearly double what it was 10 years ago, and we are not twice as safe,” he continued. “Defunding SPD by at least 50%, and investing in community and alternatives to public safety, is necessary. The time is now.”

Among the six major candidates who’ve raised significant campaign funds in 2021, Houston is the only one to explicitly support defunding the city’s police department.

Other proposals run the gamut. That includes homelessness advocate Colleen Echohawk, who says the city should move its traffic safety and mental health crisis support “into the community,” and establish a Public Safety Department staffed by mental health workers and neighborhood liaisons.

Seattle begins mailing out democracy vouchers

Former Council President Bruce Harrell proposes that every SPD officer be required to watch the full video of George Floyd’s murder, and voluntarily sign a letter saying that “the inhumane treatment of fellow human beings will not be tolerated in Seattle.” He also addresses the debate over the department’s funding, calling on city leaders to “move beyond the arbitrary and divisive public safety budget debates,” and invest money in training for officers, as well as for hiring social workers and addiction specialists.

Gonzalez’s stated position on her campaign website is more concise, simply stating that she envisions “a Seattle where public safety is completely reimagined: [where] policing is demilitarized and held accountable to the public.”

Economic developer Lance Randall sits furthest away from Houston’s “defund” stance, emphasizing a police department that is “adequately funded, staffed and supported,” and proposing the creation of a Public Safety Youth Academy “to train young people from our local community to carry the torch as the next generation of those who will keep Seattle residents safe.”

While former state lawmaker Jessyn Farrell has been competitive in raising early campaign funds, her website does not detail a stated position on policing, focusing more on post-pandemic economic recovery, wealth inequality, and public education.

Local News

COVID misinformation...
Nick Bowman

State commission warns of discipline for doctors who grant vaccine exemptions without ‘legitimate’ reason

A state commission stressed its opposition to COVID-related misinformation last week, threatening discipline for physicians who help it spread.
14 hours ago
Battle Ground tornado...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Tornado touches down in Southern Washington on Monday evening

The National Weather Service confirmed today that a weak tornado touched down near Battle Ground, Washington, on Monday evening.
14 hours ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Robocalls ‘are not going to go away’ even as new US law kicks in

New rules on robocalls kick in Tuesday, Sept. 28, but an advocate with WashPIRG says that doesn't mean the calls will stop entirely.
14 hours ago
Andrew Scheinthal, KIRO 7 News

Deputies: Murder suspect shot in Snohomish County after multi agency investigation

Members of the King County-based Valley SWAT team opened fire in a Snohomish County parking lot Monday, while pursuing a murder suspect.
2 days ago
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan budget...
Hanna Scott

New budget from Seattle mayor spends big on affordable housing, boosts funds for public safety

In the final budget proposal of her administration, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan lays out spending for $190 million on affordable housing.
2 days ago
Greyhound lawsuit...
Dalton Day

Greyhound settles $2.2 million lawsuit over warrantless WA state immigration sweeps

Greyhound Lines Inc. will pay a $2.2 million settlement over compliance in warrantless immigration sweeps conducted by CBP out of Spokane Intermodal Center.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Seattle mayoral candidate: Challengers should support defunding SPD ‘or drop out’