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

rapid covid test...
MyNorthwest Staff

UW doctor: When to use a PCR versus rapid antigen test for COVID-19

Dr. Geoff Baird with UW Medicine has a simple formula for weighing the two main COVID test types: PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and rapid antigen.
22 hours ago
USS John McCain...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Naval Station Everett welcomes USS John S. McCain

The USS John S. McCain is now docked at its new homeport, Naval Station Everett.
22 hours ago
vaccine booster, heart...
Stephanie Klein

What to know as Oct. 18 deadline for vaccine mandate approaches

The deadline for state workers, including educators, and healthcare workers to show their employers proof that they're vaccinated against COVID-19 is Monday, Oct. 18.
22 hours ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

Police: Two in custody after hit-and-run suspect rams patrol car; officer fires shots

Two people were taken into custody after a driver suspected of a hit-and-run rammed an officer’s patrol vehicle, resulting in the officer firing shots at the car Saturday night in Medina.
22 hours ago
Seattle library...
MyNorthwest Staff

Last of Seattle Public Library branch closures from pandemic comes to an end

Seattle has reopened its NewHolly library branch, meaning that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, all 27 of the city's branches are now up and running.
2 days ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

2 people shot in Seattle; suspect surrenders to police after SWAT negotiation

A suspect surrendered to police Saturday afternoon after two people were shot in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the Seattle Police Department said.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
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.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
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.
Seattle mayoral candidate: Challengers should support defunding SPD ‘or drop out’