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Seattle Council president: Investigating Kshama Sawant isn’t a top priority

Seattle City Council's president said she wanted to focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and ongoing protests over racial justice.

SEATTLE — Seattle City Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez says city leaders have more important issues to focus on than investigating Councilmember Kshama Sawant for "disorderly or otherwise contemptuous behavior."

In a letter sent earlier this week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan asked the council to look into a series of allegations, including allegedly using her power as an elected official to raise money for a ballot initiative, give hundreds of people access to City Hall when it was closed to the public and encourage people to occupy the police department's East Precinct. 

RELATED: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan asks city council to investigate Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Durkan said the council can choose to ignore Sawant's actions, "but I think that undermines public confidence in our institutions."  

In her response to Durkan, Gonzalez says she heard from constituents that they want the council to focus on addressing "concurrent crises facing thousands of families" and businesses. That includes the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a worsening economy and high unemployment, and a civil rights movement "demanding we divest from racist, anti-Black systems."

"These are the issues that demand our attention," she wrote in a letter.

RELATED: Protesters march to Seattle Mayor Durkan's house as 'CHOP' scene continues

“These critical and concurrent challenges are unprecedented and require us to set aside our personal and political grievances and work together. The public airing of issues amongst and between independently elected officials will not advance solutions on the deepening needs of our constituents. I remain focused on finding solutions and would welcome a letter from Mayor Durkan detailing her vision on how we can work together on enacting concrete solutions that meaningfully address these crises."

Gonzalez says she's confident the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will handle complaints that fall into their jurisdiction.