State Senator Ed Murray Thursday blasted Mayor Mike McGinn for a lack of results on his approach to downtown crime and said that he would expand the Center City Initiative as well as work with county leaders to get more social services offered outside of Seattle.
Murray laid out his vision for strengthening the police department and addressing downtown crime in a morning news conference, in which he also was endorsed by City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, the fourth council member to support McGinn’s opponent and a former challenger who lost in the primary.
“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.”
McGinn responded that Murray seemed to be endorsing the mayor’s initiative.
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“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 said. “We’ve had no new ideas from Senator Murray other than to continue what we’ve started.”
The mayor also shot back that as a state legislator, Murray had voted to cut funding for the Department of Corrections, leaving more ex-felons unsupervised in the city, and for mental-health treatment, also exacerbating the downtown crime problem.
“Senator Murray should take responsibility for his role in cutting social services,” McGinn said.
Murray announced Harrell’s endorsement a day after Harrell raised concerns at a Council Public Safety Committee hearing about the effectiveness of the mayor’s approach to downtown crime.
In throwing his support to Murray, Harrell said the city needed a mayor who was not afraid to give clear orders to the police about crime enforcement as well as to show compassion to those in need.
Harrell, who finished fourth in the mayoral primary, also responded to a question about the relationship between the mayor and council, saying, “I don’t think it could get much worse.”
Harrell’s endorsement gives Murray’s candidacy a boost among the city’s ethnic and minority communities where he may not be as well-known as Harrell, the council’s only minority and a Central District native. In the August primary, Harrell won many of the precincts in Southeast Seattle that McGinn carried in 2009.
Murray’s campaign strategist, Sandeep Kaushik, said the senator would continue to seek endorsements from other community leaders and elected officials in the city’s most racially diverse quadrant.
City Attorney Pete Holmes, who already has endorsed Murray, also attended the news conference and criticized McGinn for a lack of collaboration on the downtown-crime issue. He cited the police department’s recent call for him to prosecute 28 chronic, low-level street offenders and questioned why the mayor chose to publicize that, rather than working with his office to identify those individuals amenable to treatment and those who needed to be jailed, the approach of the Center City Initiative.
“A vision without the ability to implement it or collaborate is meaningless,” Holmes said.
Murray said his goals for public safety were to select a new police chief, accelerate the settlement agreement with the Department of Justice and hire more police who are from the city and trained to work in a diverse, urban environment.
Asked about the calls from the Downtown Seattle Association to hire more officers, Murray said the force needs to first address issues of biased policing and excessive use of force and to rebuild trust in the community.
“Simply adding officers without reform is not going to get at the problem,” he said.
Lynn Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes