Seattle mayoral contenders spar over police reforms in televised debate

Six leading candidates for Seattle mayor took part in a live, televised debate Monday night.

Leading candidates for Seattle mayor sparred on issues ranging from taxes to homelessness Monday night in a live, televised debate, but there weren’t many fireworks.

Policing was perhaps the most contentious topic as Jenny Durkan, Jessyn Farrell, Bob Hasegawa, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver shared the stage for 90 minutes.

McGinn, who was mayor from 2009 to 2013, and Oliver, an educator, activist and attorney, expressed dissatisfaction that ongoing reforms have not led to more change. They noted the recent fatal shooting by police of Charleena Lyles.

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Despite improvements made with the city under a court-monitored agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, “The public has lost trust that we’re making progress,” McGinn said.

Calling for more civilian control over the police department, Oliver said community voices still “have been routinely kept from the table.”

Durkan, who while serving as U.S. attorney helped negotiate the reform agreement, said, “We have more to do,” but defended the work the department has done.

“Reform doesn’t happen overnight,” she said, arguing that information released after Lyles’ shooting shows the department has become more transparent.

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Seattle CityClub, KING 5, KUOW and GeekWire hosted the debate at Impact Hub Seattle in Pioneer Square. They chose which of the 21 registered candidates would take part based on their fundraising, endorsements and a poll last month.

Durkan struck out on her own more than once. She called for zero-based budgeting and was the only candidate to support continued sweeps of unauthorized homeless encampments.

“We should not let people live there,” she said. “It’s not compassionate.”

On transportation, Durkan followed Oliver in proposing free transit passes for Seattle residents under 18, while Hasegawa suggested the city consider making transit free for all.

Hockey and basketball fans perked up their ears for the final question, as the candidates were asked where they believe a new sports arena should be sited.

Farrell, a former state representative, and McGinn picked Sodo, while Moon, an urban planner, and Oliver chose KeyArena. Durkan couldn’t pick, and Hasegawa, a state senator,…

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