Seattle City Attorney candidate Ann Davison: ‘Society is screaming at us’
Seattle City Attorney candidate Ann Davison is currently in an effective three-way tie with incumbent Pete Holmes and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. After more results dropped Thursday afternoon, Davison rests at 34.5% of the primary vote, while Holmes sits at 32.02% and Thomas-Kennedy at 33.19%.
The race can be characterized as a split along ideological lines. Holmes is seeking a fourth term with a track record of de-escalation of the war on drugs at its intersection with misdemeanor marijuana charges, lobbying the state to reduce maximum sentencing on misdemeanor charges to assist immigrant communities that would otherwise be subject to mandatory deportation after a year-long sentence, and protecting funding for public transit.
Nicole Thomas-Kennedy has served as a public defender who sees the current Seattle City Attorney’s office as a vehicle for the entrenchment of systemic inequality. She is looking to move the focus of the office away from the prosecution of the impoverished and into what her campaign website calls the “root causes of poverty, homelessness, and despair.” Instead, she wants to “refocus the civil division of the office to go after large scale harms: wage theft, corporate landlords, and oil companies that destroy the environment.”
“Decriminalization and Abolition are the keys to dismantling the current system that has very effectively targeted BIPOC, the poor, and the disabled — atomizing social problems as individual issues of ‘responsibility’ instead of social failings,” her campaign website adds.
Seattle City Attorney candidate Ann Davison joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to clarify her vision for the office and enumerate her policy positions, particularly within the context of crime and homelessness, which have recently struck at the King County Courthouse itself.
“We must address crimes at the misdemeanor level because otherwise it invites an increase in severity and frequency,” Davison stated. “We have people who cannot simply do their job in the administrative administration of justice for other victims of even more serious crimes. This is absolutely abominable that we are having to have this conversation.”
In the interview, Davison was asked about 9th Circuit case Martin v. Boise, which established a precedent for municipal governments with respect to their ability to prosecute the homeless for sleeping on public property. The 9th Circuit held that “as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”
“[Martin v. Boise] doesn’t say that we aren’t allowed to protect our public spaces. I think that it’s important to understand that there is a way to do it with compassion and safety,” Davison said. “It doesn’t have to be just a blanket response. We don’t have people of courage willing to have the conversation of [how] we can care for people and protect our public spaces. We can have it both ways.”
Davison affirmed that commitment to protecting public spaces.
“The laws on the books are there. They’re there to tell us what we as a society reflect, our values, and we need to use them to provide protections for everyone,” Davison added. “And that’s really the starting place. Centering victims, whether they’re sheltered and unsheltered is the first and foremost thing. We need to return that system to be a place of legal advice to those who are elected to create policy. It is mismanagement top to bottom.”
On the subject of mismanagement, she further clarified that she would support a results oriented approach with respect to the use of social spending and prosecution in addressing crime.
“Right now, what society is screaming at us here locally is crime is increasing. Social spending is increasing, prosecution is decreasing. That tells us that the money is not the answer, or it’s not in appropriate programs where there are measurable outcomes to get to the interventions that we want,” Davison said. “It tells us that there still does need to be an increase in prosecution.”
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