Seattle residents, it’s time to speak up.
Let the runaway City Council hear your opinion about how to make policing more equitable and improve public safety while increasing livability, jobs and economic opportunity.
Council members apparently aren’t hearing from enough constituents.
They are rushing to gut the Seattle Police Department and give millions to private nonprofits, with no plan in place for making the city safer or policing more equitable.
The council’s actions have been so rash and thoughtless, members barreled into cutting positions and slashing command staff’s salaries — all without consulting Police Chief Carmen Best. As a result, the city’s first Black police chief announced she is retiring rather than lay off the newest, most diverse officers.
Instead of listening to their communities, council members are following the script of activist groups affiliated with labor organizations that have long influenced spending decisions at City Hall.
Meanwhile, violent crime is surging and the city’s retail core has boarded up windows, empty hotels and abandoned restaurants.
The metro area lost $8.1 billion in wages and earnings just in the second quarter, according to a recent study by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Instead of doing everything they can to revive downtown, encourage workers to return and speed economic recovery, council members under the leadership of council President M. Lorena González and budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda are penalizing employers with a punitive new tax on jobs.
Large employers are now exploring options for workers not to return to a city that’s demonizing them and deprioritizing the safety of their employees.
Residents should let council members know if they’re on the right track.
If council members care about empowering residents, and making sustainable change, they should give as much consideration to your opinion as they do to professional organizers angling for a city contract.
It’s unclear if the council’s flawed public process is up to this challenge. Its hearings are flooded by a cadre of activists and organizations that benefit from city spending, drowning out other voices. This bullying recently extended to groups marching to and vandalizing the homes of some council members who don’t fully support their demands. Will any dare call for performance standards and accountability, if police functions are outsourced to these private vendors?
Meanwhile, the majority of Seattle’s 760,000 residents — and many others who work in and care about the city — are left out of the conversation.
The righteous national reckoning with racism spurred by George Floyd’s death should be spurring government action. But that momentum cannot be wasted by politicians who aren’t truly inclusive and don’t listen to diverse viewpoints.
González in particular promised to hear ordinary residents — not just insiders — when she supported campaign reforms and ran for reelection in 2017.
“I look forward to building upon the grassroots strength of my 2015 campaign with a program that gives real people an investment in their democracy, and the governance of our city,” she said in 2017. “I am excited to continue learning from and discussing issues with people across Seattle as we look to build a more inclusive, affordable and prosperous city for all our residents.”
Hold her to those promises, real people of Seattle.
You may not have bullhorns, organizers or an attack squad on Twitter, but your opinion matters.
Here are phone numbers and email addresses of your city representatives. Don’t let anyone silence your voice, and let us know if council members don’t listen or respond.
AT-LARGE (Representing entire city)
Position 9 — Citywide
Name: M. Lorena González (Council President)
Position 8 — Citywide
Name: Teresa Mosqueda
District 1 — West Seattle / South Park
Name: Lisa Herbold
District 2 — South Seattle and the Chinatown / International District
Name: Tammy J. Morales
District 3 — Central Seattle
Name: Kshama Sawant
District 4 — Northeast Seattle
Name: Alex Pedersen
District 5 — North Seattle
Name: Debora Juarez
District 6 — Northwest Seattle
Name: Dan Strauss
District 7 — Pioneer Square to Magnolia
Name: Andrew J. Lewis