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Rising gun violence: What Seattle mayoral candidates would do

KIRO Seattle logo KIRO Seattle 7/27/2021 Essex Porter

Reversing the rising tide of gun violence will be a top job for Seattle’s next mayor.  We began by asking the leading candidates what they’d say if they were Seattle’s mayor today.

“I would start by just acknowledging, you know, and offering my deepest condolences to the people who have lost loved ones,” said former state lawmaker, Jessyn Farrell.

When tragedy strikes, it’s the mayor who expresses the city’s empathy.

“I am heartbroken. I feel so much for the families,” said former executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, Colleen Echohawk.

Former City Council President Bruce Harrell said, “I would certainly talk to the families involved first. To make sure they know that we will do everything humanly possible to prevent it from happening again.”

Current City Council President Lorena Gonzalez said she will “ask for peace and, and, and healing in this really tragic moment.”

We spoke with the mayoral candidates leading in the Northwest Progressive Institute poll. Only the top two chosen by voters next Tuesday will go on to the general election.

“I want to be effective in the work of public safety. I don’t, the data is not, is not show that more cops on the street make our streets more safe,” said Echohawk.

Gonzalez added, “Murder rates in Seattle have gone up consistently over the past decade even as our police budgets and their staffing grew in that same context.”

“More police are one of the solutions, but not just police officers as we think of traditionally. Effective police officers, better police officers.  What we want to see are police officers who are out of the cars building community trust,” said Harrell.

Farrell said, “It is not just a question of, you know, do we need more police? In some instances we do, but it is absolutely. We need a comprehensive approach.”

That  approach focuses on crime prevention.

“We need investments in these community-based violence interruption programs that we’ll get to, to, uh, preventing these incidents from occurring in the first place,” said Gonzalez.

“We know that when economic stressors go up, gun violence goes up. And so we need to make sure that every single person in our community has what they need to be able to feel stable and secure,” said Farrell.

“We’re calling for a new Department of Public Safety,” said Echohawk. “That includes an office of crime prevention investing in those kinds of upstream, um, uh, programs is going to make the difference.”

AndHarrell wants the state to let Seattle pass its own gun restrictions — something that’s current prohibited by state law.

“If a person is intoxicated, the place should be able to take that person’s gun much like they are prohibited from driving. So we could prohibit guns in parks and open places and open spaces where people recreate,” he said.

Harrell also wants to try technology that can instantly pinpoint the sound of a gunshot and send officers to that location right away.

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