“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.” - Dr. Seuss
by Tyler Mangrum
- The Capitol Hill Times -
With less than two months left until the general election, State Senator Ed Murray furthered his attack against incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn on Thursday with the release of his own public safety agenda, which also offered criticism for McGinn’s response to a recent rise in crime across Capitol Hill and Downtown.
Along with City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who had previously been a candidate for mayor during the primaries, Murray’s public safety proposals included the selection of a new police chief who will show “an unwavering commitment to reform,” a promise to encourage stronger ties between the police force and the community, and a promotion of responsible gun use.
“Public safety—police, fire and emergency medical response—is the highest priority of city government,” Murray said. “As Mayor I will make certain Seattle’s police officers and firefighters receive the training, resources and leadership they need to do their jobs effectively.”
Other items on Murray’s agenda included the acceleration of the Police Accountability Plan brokered by McGinn and the U.S. Department of Justice last summer. The Accountability Plan itself was the result of a harsh report by the DOJ regarding the behavior of the city’s police department, particularly their use of brute force.
Given Murray’s stance on the Accountability Plan, and other general similarities between the two candidates when it comes to their public safety proposals, McGinn responded to Murray’s press conference by saying that the challenger’s agenda was tantamount to an endorsement of McGinn’s prior work on the issue.
“It sounds like he appreciates the work we’re doing to bring together law enforcement, social service agencies, residents and downtown business owners to address the problems downtown,” McGinn told the Seattle Times. “We’ve had no new ideas from Senator Murray other than to continue what we’ve started.”
Councilmember Harrell, who is the fourth sitting councilmember to endorse Murray, has also gone on record to say that there is little difference between the two candidates when it comes to policy.
“I’d be hard pressed to say that there’s a part of Ed’s platform that distinguishes him from McGinn,” Harrell said to Crosscut.com. “[Murray] has developed a history of building relationships in politics and that’s where the mayor has fallen short.”
Instead, Harrell voiced preference for Murray’s strategy of politicking to that of McGinn, who has famously had an adversarial relationship with the city council. When asked about how the current endorsements by city council members would worsen the current relationship between McGinn and the council if Murray were to lose, Harrell responded by saying “I don’t think it could get much worse.”
The release of Murray’s public safety agenda comes on the heels of a recent wave of muggings and carjackings across Capitol Hill that lasted through the months of July and August, allegedly perpetrated by a trio of men who used a pellet gun to intimidate victims before stealing their cell phones and other personal belongings.
Murray also made claims that crime was up in the downtown core as well, particularly in the form of violent crime, domestic violence, and hate crime as well.
“The citizens of this city should know their streets are safe when they shop,” Murray said. “We can enforce the laws, protect civil liberties and sort out those individuals who are committing criminal acts from those in need of additional mental health or addiction treatment.”
Harrell, who chairs the city council’s public safety committee, when looking at statistics, all but repudiated Murray’s claims of an increase in crime despite the recent wave of muggings across Capitol Hill.
“The fact of the matter is in a lot of areas, whether it’s violent crimes or less violent crimes, property crimes, they’re sort of flat,” Harrell said. “I mean there’s not a big spike one way or the other that’s going to say, hey, this person’s doing such an inadequate job that he or she needs to go.”
McGinn, whose response to the muggings on Capitol Hill included increasing the police budget by $400,000, keeping the lights of Cal Anderson on all night and beginning the new Gun-Free Zone program, said that any increase in crimes could also be traced back beyond the city or King County to Olympia, and Murray in particular. As a state senator, Murray voted to cut funding to the Department of Corrections.
“Senator Murray should take responsibility for his role in cutting social services,” McGinn said.