Seattle police guild members overwhelmingly elected a hard-line candidate as their new president, the union announced Tuesday evening, signaling the city likely will face tough negotiations in upcoming contract talks considered key to resolving federal oversight of the police department.
Mike Solan, currently vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), defeated the incumbent, Kevin Stuckey, capturing more than 500 of 750 votes in a mail-in ballot response — a large turnout for the union representing more than 1,250 officers and sergeants.
Solan issued a statement saying he was “humbled and excited” to be elected by the members and that he will work “tirelessly” to represent them.
Solan pledged during the election to fight for respect in what he labeled the anti-police, “activist narrative” driving Seattle politics. By choosing him, SPOG’s members appeared to send a message that they want their leadership to take an aggressive stance in responding to a federal judge’s directive to fix flaws in the current contract dealing with the department’s internal disciplinary and accountability system.
Citing the deficiencies, U.S. District Judge James Robart in May found the city partly out of compliance with a 2012 consent decree requiring reforms to address U.S. Department of Justice allegations that officers too often used excessive force. Robart is awaiting the city’s formal plan, widely considered the last major hurdle to freeing itself from federal oversight after achieving other major reforms.
Stuckey, who has led the union for 3 1/2 years, took a moderate approach in seeking reelection. He said he was best suited to build off relationships that won the union big pay raises in the current contract in exchange for accepting reforms such as body-worn cameras.
Former SPOG President Rich O’Neill, the guild’s media and labor-relations coordinator, who has retired from the Seattle Police Department, said he didn’t try to predict the election outcome because he no longer has constant contact with officers on the street. But he said the landslide was striking.
“Anytime someone wins 70% of the vote, that’s kind of surprising,” he said. “Stuckey was the incumbent and they obviously wanted to go in a new direction.”
“From what I’m hearing, it was a lot of younger officers” who made the difference, O’Neill said.
The winner, who “definitely has a different style” than Stuckey, will need to hit the ground running, said O’Neill.
“He takes office March 1 and we’re supposed to be back with the city at the bargaining table on the new contract in April,” O’Neill pointed out. “He’s going to have a busy month forming a negotiating team and preparing an opening offer for the city.”
In a statement Tuesday night, Mayor Jenny Durkan touted the progress the department and SPOG members have made under the consent decree and said she is confident they’ll “continue their culture of continuous improvement towards ongoing reforms and accountability.”
Solan ran on the slogan “It’s Time to Get Serious,” arguing he is the better candidate to lead SPOG at a time when police are “under unreasonable levels of scrutiny both locally and nationwide.” He posted a pointed campaign video on YouTube that touted an impromptu news conference he held last year. At that news conference, he declared a fatal police shooting to be justified even as an investigation was barely underway.
In 2018, he led the statewide campaign against Initiative 940, a measure overwhelmingly supported by voters that, among other things, lifted a barrier that made it virtually impossible to prosecute police believed to have wrongfully used deadly force and required more training of law-enforcement officers.
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