Homelessness, police and Amazon lead Seattle mayoral debate

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SEATTLE – The two Seattle mayoral candidates agreed on Thursday that tackling the ongoing homeless crisis was the main issue facing the largest city in the Northwest, but they differed sharply on how to pay for it. that.

Lorena González and Bruce Harrell also clashed over police funding and the role and responsibility of tech giant Amazon for the problems of the city where its headquarters are located.

González, chairman of the city council and a former civil rights lawyer, said Amazon and other wealthy interests had to pay more taxes.

“I have done the work of my life to stand up and fight for working families,” she said during a debate, adding that she would also hold the police accountable for “the extraordinary abuses of our family. life and our freedom “.

During last year’s protests against the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, she embraced calls to “define” the police.

It’s a position that Harrell, a former city councilor, has embraced.

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“I do not subscribe to the defund account… I want an efficient police service,” he said.

The November municipal election will be closely watched nationally, as Seattle is one of the major cities in the country where the police funding debate is a key issue. Democratic primary voters in the New York mayoral race earlier this year picked a former police officer who opposed calls to “spend the police.”

González has called for a reform of the city’s police service which is under federal supervision after the US Department of Justice uncovered a pattern of excessive force and biased police evidence.

Harrell said González’s calls to cut police funding by 50% would exacerbate the crime problems facing minority and low-income neighborhoods.

Harrell also said the current city council has not taken concrete steps to find housing for those sleeping on the city streets and in camps in public parks in Seattle, which is experiencing one of the worst problems. homelessness in the country.

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“We are pointing fingers, making excuses,” he said.

Reform of Washington state’s regressive tax code that relies heavily on income tax is essential, Harrell said. He also said he was keen to work with Amazon and other wealthy businesses to help tackle the issue of homelessness and other issues.

González criticized Harrell, a lawyer who has the backing of most of the city’s business community, for being the preferred candidate for financial interests.

“I’m not going to ask the state legislature to fix our revenue issues,” she said. And she said Harrell was backed by people fighting against attempts to get companies to pay more taxes in Seattle and the state.

González has won the support of many unions in the region. His parents were migrant farm workers in central Washington

As chairman of the board, she helped pass a payroll tax to large companies, such as Amazon, to pay for municipal services, as well as worker protections such as a safe working hours law.

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Harrell called for hiring more police officers to stem an increase in shootings.

He grew up in the central Seattle area, a neighborhood with red lines; her father was a black transplanted from Jim Crow South, and her mother’s family were Japanese and interned during World War II.

Outgoing mayor Jenny Durkan is not running for re-election. The last three mayors elected by Seattle voters have served no more than one term.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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