In the Hall
City Attorney Tom Carr Gets a Challenger
While all eyes were on the mayor's race this week, another longtime Seattle politician was getting his first real challenger since taking office.
Police watchdog Peter Holmes planned to announce Wednesday that he would challenge two-term city attorney Tom Carr in the November election. As head of the group that oversees internal police investigations at the city for six years, Holmes frequently clashed with Carr over the release of the group's reports. "The notion that you're protecting good cops by suppressing information about cops who need to be disciplined or discharged is one I've never understood," Holmes says.
For critics of Carr, the news is exciting not just because Holmes is the first person to seriously challenge the city attorney in eight years, but because Holmes is everything Carr is not: a staunch champion of government transparency, a proponent of expanded public-disclosure laws, and a fiscal realist who opposes Carr's costly crackdowns on nightlife, pot smokers, and strip clubs.
"I don't believe that fiscal responsibility and progressive social values are mutually exclusive," Holmes said recently. Sitting in The Stranger's editorial office, dressed in a muted, almost preppy brown patterned sweater and slightly shabby brown leather oxfords, Holmes looked every bit the part of the soft-spoken bankruptcy attorney he is. But when he got on the subject of the city attorney's priorities, Holmes got passionate.
"Look at the economic cost to the city of cracking down on strip clubs," he said. "Look at the cost of cracking down on nightlife. How much money did we spend cracking down on bars in a sting that utterly failed? How much have we spent chasing people smoking marijuana?"
The list of Carr's affronts to progressive Seattle values is as long as the city attorney's record in office. Elected as an alternative to his divisive predecessor Mark Sidran, Carr supported the city's controversial (and since-overturned) car-impound ordinance (the law allowed the city to seize the cars of people caught driving without a license); backed the (also-overturned) poster ban; supported additional exemptions to the state's public-disclosure law; and supported the aforementioned crusades against bars, strip clubs, and pot.
Neither Holmes nor Carr has raised much cash (Carr because he's never had an opponent, Holmes because he's a relative unknown). However, Holmes says he isn't running to make a point. "I intend to run a serious campaign, and I intend to win."
In other election news, Seattle Great City Initiative founder Mike McGinn announced Tuesday that he's running for mayor; former Seattle Sonic James Donaldson was expected to make his own announcement Wednesday; and ex–city council member Peter Steinbrueck remained circumspect about his plans.