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Seattle City Council's vote to defund police linked to recall effort

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 8/18/2020 Patrick Quinn, KOMO News reporter

As part of the fallout from the City Council’s vote last week to defund the police department, some West Seattle residents are mounting a recall effort for Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

“She’s the chair of the Public Safety Committee and I just don’t feel like there is a plan in place,” said Tim McConnell, who said he organized the petition effort after emails to Herbold went unanswered. “Reallocating police funds could be a good thing for the city. I just don’t know what their vision looks like and I’d like someone to share it with us before they start removing police."

As of Monday afternoon, the online petition had garnered roughly 2,000 signatures. But there are questions over how many signatures are needed to recall a council member, and, given the COVID-19 pandemic, if online signatures will be accepted.

McConnell said even if the effort ends up being mainly symbolic, it represents a growing distrust between the council and its constituents.

“Just to know that there other people who feel like I do is kind of reassuring," he said. "Maybe we can have a voice now.”

KOMO's request for comment from Herbold were not immediately answered Monday. 

Herbold has served on the City Council since 2015, representing District 1, which includes West Seattle.

The petition seems to be a tangible product of the widening gulf between the council and city residents.

“They don’t know what they’re doing,” said Victoria Beach, SPD chairperson of the African-American Community Advisory Council. “There is no trust because they showed a lack of experience rushing (and) not having Chief (Carmen Best) at the table and not having a plan.” 

Beach said she is considering whether to move out of Seattle after the council’s controversial defunding vote last week.

The council approved cuts to the Seattle Police Department budget of roughly $3.5 million, a move that could mandate the elimination of 100 officers.

“My worry is they don’t really know how to do this, but they’re already taking things away," McConnell said. "So, there will be a lapse in safety and potentially someone could get hurt."

Councilman Andrew Lewis announced a town hall meeting scheduled for Wednesday that will focus on how the city plans to replace the police department's Navigation Team, which operates a homeless outreach effort and removes unsanctioned encampments and was among the cuts approved by the council.

Lewis said the goal of the session is "to have a conversation about some of the strategies and partnerships we may look into developing in the fall to replace the outreach and other services that have been provided by the Navigation Team.”

The Council will adjourn for a summer break later this week and is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 8.


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