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Seattle city attorney candidates express vastly different views on justice system

Ann Davison or Nicole Thomas-Kennedy will replace Pete Holmes as city attorney.

SEATTLE — Seattle voters will decide whether their next city attorney will work toward a system focused more on community programs and less on policing or one who believes the office is about impartial political advice and upholding laws.

The person elected will replace Pete Holmes and serve a four-year term.

Ann Davison

Ann Davison is a lawyer who once ran for Seattle City Council as a Democrat and lieutenant governor as a Republican. 

She is again seeking public office as city attorney, this time as non-partisan. 

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Davison believes the City Attorney's Office is not for setting policy or a "place for radical agenda." It is a place to provide impartial advice to those elected to create policy and to maintain laws so there is public safety.

During a recent interview with KING 5, Davison said crime has only increased over the past several years. The city, she said, is struggling with "wanting to be merciful and compassionate" but trying to also maintain a sense of order.

While some believe the city should be handling misdemeanor crimes differently and be less focused on prosecution, Davison said some misdemeanors matter because they are being committed by serious offenders. Even misdemeanors, she said, can be "business ending, job ending and tax revenue ending" for the city. 

Crimes such as catalytic converter thefts, for example, have become accepted as just what happens in the city, she said. Davison believes "it's time to demand better customer service."

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy 

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy has been a public defender and is a self-described abolitionist who wants to reimagine the City Attorney’s Office and how it prosecutes offenders. 

If elected, she said the idea wouldn't be to just do a complete wipe of the current justice system overnight. The idea, she explained during a recent interview with KING 5, would be to build up community-based resources so the city doesn't need the justice system for everything.

She doesn't believe the city can just eliminate police and jails and everything will be fine. 

"It's about reinvesting in the community," she said.

She has raised eyebrows over tweets, which included calling the people who set fires at a juvenile detention center construction site "heroes" and who tweeted "property destruction is a moral imperative" in response to last year's protests.

Thomas-Kennedy said the reason for the latter tweet was because the city was acting as if property and human life are equal, "and they're not." Last summer, however, she was not planning on running for office and said "deliberately inflammatory things." She does not believe people should be burning down buildings.

Watch king5.com for special coverage of Washington's 2021 general election shortly after the first results drop on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Then tune into KONG 6/16 at 9 and 10 p.m. and KING 5 News at 11 for team coverage across western Washington.

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