Mayfield: What happened with Seattle City Council drug ordinance vote?

Jun 7, 2023, 10:35 AM | Updated: 10:54 am

marshall seattle city council district 7...

Seattle City Hall (MyNorthwest file photo)

(MyNorthwest file photo)

What the actual heck did the Seattle City Council just do? Or rather not do?

It seems they voted to completely discount months of bipartisan work, debate, and genuine compromise. It seems they voted to utterly pretend basic crime stats and trends don’t exist. It seems they voted to absolutely ignore the will of the voters who put them where they are.

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In a 5-4 vote, the Seattle City Council basically told you and me to shut up and sit down. How else can you explain voting against a drug prosecution bill in the middle of a drug and overdose epidemic?!

Historically the ‘War on Drugs’ has been a failure. It has resulted in widespread racism and over-policing. It has not gotten more people off drugs but has instead wrecked more lives, and now, more people than ever fight drug demons.

But the last few years of ignoring drugs completely around here hasn’t worked either. The numbers don’t lie. Your eyes don’t lie. There has to be a middle ground — a place where we get people help but also hold people accountable.

That’s what this bill would have done. It would have made possession and public drug use cases gross misdemeanors and give Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison the ability to prosecute them. Davison, in turn, has vowed to use drug diversion programs to get help for as many as possible.

That’s what the state Legislature just did. That’s what the governor just signed into law. That’s what the Seattle city attorney ran on and was overwhelmingly elected by voters to do.

Instead, those cases — if the police even make arrests — will go to the overworked and understaffed county prosecutor’s office, which doesn’t want them.

Drugs and crime are the No. 1 issue in nearly every city council race this year.

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I guess that’s why so many members of the current city council aren’t running for re-election, they see the writing on the wall, and they know what voters want. Yet, I guess they saw one last chance to give us one more black eye on the way out the door.


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Mayfield: What happened with Seattle City Council drug ordinance vote?