The Seattle City Council needs a shakeup
December 7, 2022
Seattle voters have made it adamantly clear what they want when it comes to public safety, as polling has repeatedly demonstrated. They want crime reduced so they feel safe, and more police officers on the force, not fewer.
Yet, the majority of the City Council isn’t listening.
Recently the council voted 6-3 to approve a new a $7.4 billion annual city budget that actually eliminates 80 unfilled officer positions at a time when police staffing is at its lowest in 30 years. The vote also flies in the face of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s expressed goal to fully staff the department, now at less than 1,000 officers, to 1,450 officers.
The council’s vote made it clear that most of them aren’t paying attention to the will of the voters, or don’t care.
The time has come to hold them accountable.
First, here is how the council voted:
In favor of the budget:
- Lisa Herbold
- Dan Strauss
- Tammy Morales
- Debora Juarez
- Teresa Mosqueda
- Andrew Lewis
Against the budget:
- Alex Pedersen
- Sara Nelson
- Kshama Sawant (note: she always votes against it because it’s never progressive enough).
These are names you should note well, because you’ll want to remember them come next November when seven of them are up for reelection.
Elected officials too often have a mentality that they won’t suffer negative consequences for poor decision-making because voters have too short of attention spans to remember it if it doesn’t occur around election season.
Any councilmember who holds that mindset is going to be sorely mistaken. As the Seattle Times editorial board writes in a scathing takedown of this budget, those voting ‘yes’ now have a legislative record that “will not be forgotten.”
We are not going to just let this slide. We will remember well come next year.
In the meantime, we at Change Washington will be tracking public safety metrics and data and keep you informed of important information as it becomes available. Seattle voters need to know if the police force is growing even smaller or when petty crime rates are increasing suddenly. And they need to always keep in mind when that happens that the City Council botched a vital opportunity to begin restoring the police department and public safety in the city.
The Seattle Times editorial board noted during the budget vote Councilmember Herbold chastised Councilmembers Nelson and Pedersen for creating a “false narrative” that she thinks is harming efforts to get more cops on the payroll and keep them there.
No, what’s harming those efforts are toxic statements by councilmembers calling cops “murderers.” What’s harming those efforts is a city that ordered its officers to abandon a police station to rioters who turned the neighborhood into a deadly state of anarchy while the previous mayor was a no-show. What’s harming those efforts is the total lack of meaningful support or reassurances from the council, as made evident by the latest staff reduction decisions in the newly-approved budget.
Put bluntly, the council is absolutely failing the people of Seattle at a time when true leadership is needed to address this crisis. Additionally, it is deeply unsettling that Harrell didn’t hold the council’s feet to the fire on hiring more officers. If he wants to bring about positive change in the right direction, he’ll have to fight tooth and nail to get them.
This is not a lighthearted coffeehouse debate. This is an ideological struggle for the future of Seattle, one in which the city is safe again or not.
If voters don’t view it that way – and vote that way – the future will look like just like it does today, only more so.