Seattle cop running for city council: ‘It’s where I’m most needed’

Jun 23, 2023, 6:15 AM | Updated: 6:27 am

marshall seattle city council district 7...

Aaron Marshall, candidate for Seattle City Council District 7 (Photo courtesy of Marshall for Seattle)

(Photo courtesy of Marshall for Seattle)

Among the candidates running for Seattle City Council’s District 7 seat — occupied by incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who is seeking a second term — is Seattle Police Department (SPD) Officer Aaron Marshall, advocating for public safety reform within the city.

“Public safety is the first and foremost thing that I’m concerned about,” Marshall told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I feel like I’m pushing sand into the ocean right now. I have a lot of effect as a police officer, especially as a street-level cop like I am. But I know that real effect has to happen at the very top. So just short of running for mayor, I think the city council is where I’m most needed right now, especially living in District 7 as I have for the last 20 years.”

Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council rejected an ordinance that would have allowed City Attorney Ann Davison to prosecute people for misdemeanor drug possession and public drug use — which became law after the Washington state Legislature came to an agreement during an emergency session in May.

Seattle city council fails to approve new city drug possession law

Lewis, representing District 7, was the deciding vote in an eventual 5-4 decision. Councilmembers Alex Pederson, Debora Jaurez, Dan Strauss, and Sara Nelson voted in favor of the ordinance. Lewis said he planned to vote for the measure, but decided not to, stating the issue required further discussion in committee before being voted into law.

“I’m neither Republican nor Democrat, but you and I completely agree on one thing that no incumbent should be re-elected to the city council. None of them deserve the job,” Marshall said. “Think of private business. Would you ever rehire somebody that has done the job they’ve done for the last four years? Impossible. So as much as I would like to say that Andrew Lewis shouldn’t even be considered for city council, I also realize he has $93,000 of support, which is significant.”

But Marshall acknowledges Seattle is a Democratic-majority city as 75% of residents voted Democrat in the last presidential election while 22.2% voted for the Republican Party and the remaining 2.8% voted Independent, according to Best Places.

“Sometimes when they just assume that Andrew Lewis is a Democrat, which he is, they will vote with him, regardless of the job that he’s done,” Marshall said. “With that being said, I think [Lewis] is a political windsock. There is no telling what direction he’s ever going to go. If 20 people show up to the city council and yell at him a little bit, he’s going to change his mind.”

Hard-working residents challenge Lewis’ seat

Marshall stated on The Jason Rantz Show that while being a police officer has always been his dream job — despite the challenges the SPD has faced with staffing and increasing restrictions on policing — he’s willing to sacrifice his career to make a greater difference.

“It’s very important for me to let the people know that I’m a citizen of District 7, first and foremost,” Marshall said. “A citizen of Seattle second. And I happen to be a Seattle police officer, a job that I absolutely love. It is so important for me to let the people know that I love being a cop so much, but I love the city of Seattle even more. I’m willing to give up a job that I absolutely feel like it has been my calling to do, because I know that the city is in such dire straits.”

Olga Sagan, the owner of the popular Piroshky, Piroshky bakery, announced her candidacy for the District 7 seat as well, joining fellow business owner Isabelle Kerner, retired U.S. Navy officer Robert Kettle, and Amazon software engineer Wade Sowders alongside Marshall.

Piroshky, Piroshky owner announces candidacy for Seattle City Council

“I think Olga’s fantastic,” Marshall added. “She’s been nothing but nice and kind. I mean, we’ve been texting back and forth.”

Olga told KIRO Newsradio she hopes to tackle crime and is also prioritizing a public safety platform.

Could a police officer become a city council member?

Marshall has considered running for a seat on the city council for some time while working as a police officer, but stated he was told by many people that there’s “no way a white police officer is going to be on the city council.”

“In 2013, they were literally looking for the community to come out and be Seattle police officers, so I answered the call,” Marshall said. “I came up and said, ‘listen, I’ll take my history in the Marine Corps, I’ll take my history of being a bartender,’ which, by the way, are the greatest educational tools to become a Seattle police officer, and I answered the call. And for 10 years, I’ve done the job, proudly. I’m not worried about anything that I’ve done in the last 10 years. It’s been, like I said, a highlight of my professional career.”

As a police officer, Marshall stated one of the things hindering the department is officers are not feeling confident in doing proactive work, knowing full well that the city of Seattle does not back them.

“I don’t have the same baggage as other candidates will have when people start protesting, because inevitably tough decisions are going to have to be made and there will be protests,” Marshall continued. “So I’m insulated in a way that I don’t have a business that they can go after. They can protest in front of my building. We just need somebody in city government, in the city council, that has some common sense and who is an independent voice.”

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“Are we ready for the All-Star game?” Rantz asked Marshall.

“Now that’s something I will answer, not as a Seattle police officer, but as a resident of the city of Seattle,” Marshall responded. “It frustrates me to watch our troubles getting pushed to the side for a temporary event. And as someone who is a citizen of Seattle who follows politics closely, I worry about our ability to react to a crisis in multiple ways.”

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Together Washington announced it is hosting a Community Clean-Up on June 23 at T-Mobile Park, working in tandem with the Seattle Metro Chamber and the Seattle Mariners in an effort to clean up areas including Pioneer Square, SODO, and the Chinatown/International District. Some local political voices, including the host of the unDivided podcast Brandi Kruse, sounded off in their displeasure that volunteers are bearing the brunt of the work.

“I don’t think I’m saying anything that the command staff wouldn’t tell you as well that we are spread pretty thin,” Marshall said. “So when you have multiple things going on in the city at the same time, it becomes very difficult.”

Marshall has been on the force for 10 years and is part of SPD’s Community Response Group. He said the unit made up of 20 police officers, five sergeants, and one lieutenant, typically handles the most prolific crimes downtown, from narcotics and violent crimes to undercover missions and street-level crimes, according to KOMO News.

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“District 7 is the engine of Seattle, it generates half of our tax base,” Marshall said. “So the fact that businesses don’t feel comfortable running in Seattle right now, the fact that public safety is absolutely out of control. We need to get District 7 back up on its feet. And Queen Anne is really important to me because they’re the voting base. Two-thirds of Queen Anne voters vote for what happens in downtown Seattle. So it’s really important for me to represent not only my entire district, but know that my emphasis right out of the gate is going to be downtown Seattle and public safety.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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