Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, issued an apology Thursday, a week after making comments about race and crime that offended many across the state.
OLYMPIA — Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, issued an apology Thursday, one week after making comments about race and crime that offended civil- rights advocates across the state.
“I sincerely appreciate the people who took the time to tell me that some of the language I have used has been hurtful to them,” Honeyford said in a prepared statement. “Even my wife has weighed in on this issue.”
Honeyford, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, made the remarks at a Feb. 28 hearing on a bill that would require future legislation to have impact statements identifying potentially disparate consequences for minorities. He was asking state Caseload Forecast Council Executive Director John Steiger how current crime data on the poor and racial minorities would factor in those impact statements.
It’s “generally accepted that the poor are more likely to commit crimes, and generally, I think, accepted that people of color are more likely poor than not,” Honeyford said. “So how does that factor into your equation?”
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The question prompted fellow committee member Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, to speak out of turn to challenge Honeyford’s statements.
“It’s probably true that there’s more people in jail and facing prosecutions, but these types of analysis will help us get to the root of what’s causing that disparate treatment,” said Hasegawa, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5752.
The committee chairman offered Honeyford a chance to clarify his position. Honeyford’s response referred to minorities as “colored.”
Honeyford, 76, went on to describe ethnic minorities with that term in subsequent interviews about his remarks. In interviews with multiple media outlets, he said he was not sorry for the remarks.
But Thursday, Honeyford said he realized the language he chose isn’t “appropriate in 2015.”
“I have been active for years in working in my community to encourage residents from diverse communities to become politically active, and I regret anything that takes away from those efforts,” Honeyford said in his apology. “It is a privilege to serve in the public arena and I will continue to represent my entire community with diligence and increased sensitivity.”
Honeyford represents the 15th Legislative District. In 2011 the state Redistricting Commission redrew the district to become the state’s first majority Latino district.