The most important local race in the state this year
October 28, 2022
Although many local, regional, and state elected offices are up for election, you could argue that the most important political race in our state is for King County Prosecutor. It will in large part determine the future of Seattle and other cities in the county regarding public safety, crime, and business climate.
While cities handle misdemeanor crimes, the county prosecutor decides whether to file charges against suspects accused of felony crimes, and how lenient or stern those charges will be.
If you care about what kind of future you want, you can’t afford not to vote.
One possible future for Seattle and elsewhere was described recently in a Seattle Times article (bold emphasis added):
It’s been a little over six months since Seattle police launched an operation that first targeted open-air drug use at 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in the Chinatown International District, then focused on seizing drugs, illegal weapons and stolen merchandise from the area around Third Avenue and Pine Street in the downtown retail core.
(SPD Capt. James) Strand figured that disrupting the drug market at 12th and Jackson would be fairly straightforward because the activity wasn’t anchored in the neighborhood and there was no specific reason for people to gather there. But he thought Third and Pine — with its confluence of tourism destinations, retail stores and public transit, as well as the area’s long history as a hub of drug and criminal activity — would require a longer, concentrated push to reduce illicit behavior and improve public safety.
He was right on both fronts.
The crowds that used to gather at 12th and Jackson haven’t returned.
The article goes on to describe what is effectively a drug market environment in which illicit dealing and use occurs. With that drug addiction comes the petty crime to finance it. Not surprisingly, no ordinary person wants to visit or live in such a community if they can avoid it, and criminals flock there to engage in other illegal activities.
It’s a situation the new county prosecutor could change or allow to continue.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Don’t forget to vote for King County Prosecutor and tell 4-5 of your friends to do the same!
While drug use could be considered a “victimless” crime in a legal sense (addicts hurt themselves), this is a myopic way of looking at it. As The Seattle Times reported, drug addiction too often inevitably leads to petty or even violent crime to finance the lifestyle. Even minor offenses like theft are serious because they create an unsafe atmosphere that deters people from living, working, or visiting there – as downtown Seattle is experiencing.
When you have a few people irregularly committing minor offenses, that’s one thing. But when it becomes commonplace and expected, it destroys the quality of life in the community, which is demoralized and reluctant to invest in their neighborhoods.
Whether these offenders are allowed to operate freely or kept off the streets is dependent on the county prosecutor’s attitude toward such crimes. If they make it a policy, unofficial or not, to not go after those offenses, those repeat criminals go back on the street. Also, the police officers who arrested them have learned their lesson: don’t bother responding to certain crimes.
With new Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison already vowing to crack down on serial misdemeanor offenders, it is important that whoever takes over as county prosecutor appreciates the connection between drug activity and crime that is harming Seattle neighborhoods and views such cases within the broader context.
A petty criminal with a known drug addiction is all but likely to be a serial offender. Just as we should (judiciously) use diversion to keep certain offenders out of jail or prison due to extenuating circumstances, others need the book thrown at them. That also applies to drug dealers, who need to be viewed within the same context. They’re fueling a deadly drug overdose epidemic and consequently contributing to other petty crime that results.
A community that develops a reputation or image of permissive public narcotic dealing and use will only attract more and more criminals engaged in the same or that take advantage of an overall lenient criminal justice system. In the end, the people who suffer the most will be the law-abiding residents whose lives and businesses are harmed and disrupted by it.
The right county prosecutor can prevent this. The wrong one will make it inevitable.
Don’t let your ballot be blank this election for King County prosecutor! Vote, and tell 4-5 of your friends to do the same!