My primary motivation for running for Seattle City Council was to make a change to our municipal drug possession code in case Olympia couldn’t or wouldn’t act on making a fix to our state-wide drug possession statute in light of the State Supreme Court’s “Blake” decision.
When I returned from law school on the East Coast in early 2022, our city had become totally unrecognizable, previously bustling commercial districts had turned into open air drug markets, and trap tents lined the streets of our downtown core.
Today, under the leadership of a new mayor, Seattle is a city in recovery. The first step in our collective recovery is for the rest of city leadership to recognize that we have a drug problem. Between 80 and 90 percent of our homeless are drug addicted and struggling with mental health, amidst the prevalence of fentanyl a crisis.
Now that we have clarity from the State, Seattle is left with serious questions about how to enforce the new “jail or treatment” law. The fact that City Attorney Davison wants to prosecute these cases in municipal court is a good thing because it will unburden the King County District Court and offer an opportunity for judicial expediency. Although I believe that a conversation should still be had about what mens rea is appropriate for the crime, for the aforementioned reasons, I support writing the new drug possession and public drug use laws into the municipal code.
The city is failing at its most basic responsibility of keeping our community safe. So, as a community, we need to re-affirm our commitment to police, so that arrests can be made to get illicit drug dealers and users off our streets. To do that, we need to pass a new SPD collective bargaining agreement to help the city hire and address the staffing shortage of over 500 officers. SPD has implemented close to 90% of nearly 300 community policing recommendations since the 2017 police accountability ordinance. It is a changed department and we need to change our attitudes about the dangerous, difficult and underappreciated work that police do to keep our community safe.
Finally, we need to keep local government accountable for the money that it raises, and we need to curb the appetite for spending. Whether it be related to housing, or transportation, our local government is entirely too focused on how to raise money for special interest backed levy projects that cause a lot of departmental context switching and poor focus on the everyday “now” work.
Despite recent revelations concerning the effectiveness of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, to which the City of Seattle is the single largest stakeholder, local government is proposing to more than quadruple the KCRHA budget by over the next five years, and the upcoming housing levy has been proposed to quadruple investments in affordable housing. These ambitious proposals are bound to be fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse and the public should demand close oversight.
The current situation demands that someone bring departmental heads to account, ask tough questions, bang on the table and demand answers. If I’m elected to represent my district behind the city dais, that’s what I’ll do. Please consider making a contribution below to help me get this message out to voters.
//s// Mr. George Artem
AmeriCorps, VetCorps Member, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs
JD Candidate, University of Washington MSIS 2020
Candidate for Seattle City Council District 4
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