Tammy Morales (left) and Mark Solomon (right) are duking it out for the Seattle City Council District 2 seat.
Tammy Morales (left) and Mark Solomon (right) are duking it out for the Seattle City Council District 2 seat.

Welcome to a new election column from The Stranger that looks at the biggest policy issue dividing each pair of candidates fighting for a seat on the Seattle City Council this fall. Today...

District 2: Candidate Tammy Morales is a community organizer with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition who narrowly lost to City Council Member Bruce Harrell in 2015. Opponent Mark Solomon is a crime-prevention coordinator with the Seattle Police Department. This is an open seat due to Harrell's upcoming retirement.

What's the biggest issue that divides Morales and Solomon?

City of Seattle

Morales says: Corporate money in politics

“Corporate money has no place in public policymaking,” Morales says. She contends that she has “walked the walk" on this issue and "did not fill out the CASE questionnaire." (CASE, or Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, is the Amazon-funded PAC run by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. CASE has spent more than $120,300 to boost Solomon in D2.)

Solomon says: Public safety

Public safety is the paramount responsibility of city leadership. Seattle's police force is woefully understaffed for a city of our size and has not kept pace with our growth. Staffing levels impact our response times to calls for service at all levels.

Boston, which has a population of roughly 695k has a higher ratio of sworn police officers at just over 2,100, compared to Seattle's 1,420 sworn officers for a population of approximately 745K.

Increased staffing will allow for more effective police response and provide the bandwidth to fully engage in community policing and relational policing programs. My policy would be to hire an additional 100 sworn officers by 2022 over our current staffing levels and expand the number of Community Service Officers that are coming back online in the near term. I would prioritize recruiting our next generation of officers from the communities they serve. I would examine Priority Hire as a vehicle to achieve this goal, especially in District 2 where historically—and currently—there is distrust of police by many in our community.

We build trust when we build relationships, which I have seen as the most effective way to keep communities safe during my tenure as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, building bridges between my community and SPD for the last 29 years. I am committed to fostering trust between our communities and law enforcement.

We say: Police accountability.

It is nearly impossible to talk about the issues facing D2, Seattle's most diverse district, without addressing policing.

While crime rates in the area have gone down overall, in D2 neighborhoods such as Georgetown and the International District crime has stayed up.

Among a rash of gun-related 911 calls in the first half of this year, 17 percent of the shots fired calls came from District 2 neighborhoods, as did around 11 percent of the 73 aggravated assault calls, according to a Patch article from May.

At the same time, D2 is a district that's very concerned with police accountability and reform.

This past year, a federal judge found the Seattle Police Department’s contract with its union, the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), out of compliance with a consent decree aimed at improving police accountability. Though the department had made strides elsewhere, the contract highlighted deficiencies in accountability, which the judge called “required and very important.”

The contract has currently not been amended.

Morales believes the union’s contract is in the wrong here and must be amended.

From an interview with Real Change:

We have a federal judge saying that we are out of compliance with our consent decree until we address accountability… I am 100 percent on board with collective bargaining, with protecting rank-and-file’s ability to bargain in good faith for what they need for worker protections. But worker protections, bargaining for worker protections and bargaining for civil rights should not be mutually exclusive.

Solomon, on the other hand, does not believe the contract needs to go back to the drawing board. From Real Change:

I think trying to do a rejoinder at this point after the contract’s already been signed and approved — as a union person, I would have a problem with that. What I do see as the path forward is you have these different opinions about what accountability should look like, whether or not the accountability ordinance has been fully implemented, and there’s things in there that have already come about.

Additionally, as far as policing is concerned, Solomon thinks the city needs more police to keep up with population growth. Morales is wary of increasing numbers, and told the Stranger Election Control Board that “if we're going to hire more officers—and I don't think we need to be hiring more officers—then in the South End, at least, they need to be unarmed community service officers who are there for conflict management and resolution, and relationship building."