July 8, 2021 Blog
ICYMI: Our Seattle Mayoral Forum on Gun Violence
Like many major cities across the United States, Seattle is facing an unprecedented surge in gun violence. Last year, the city saw its highest number of homicides in 25 years. Over 200 shootings have occurred so far in 2021, and that number continues to rise. This unsettling trend highlights the urgent need for local leaders to take bold action to combat the gun violence epidemic. Gun violence is a multidimensional crisis that intersects with class, race, and other societal inequalities that persist because of inadequate government action. The future mayor of Seattle will hold a great level of responsibility in the fight to end gun violence, as their actions will not only impact city residents but also serve as a blueprint for municipalities statewide.
With the primary election around the corner, we worked diligently to host a mayoral forum to give the public an opportunity to hear top candidates’ stances on gun violence prevention and their plans to address it if elected. The forum was hosted in partnership with the Grandmothers Against Gun Violence and media sponsor South Seattle Emerald. It was moderated by South Seattle Emerald founder Marcus Harrison Green. To qualify for the forum, candidates must have had a minimum of 1,000 donors and have participated in the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Victory Fund’s endorsement process. The following candidates were in attendance:
The forum began with a round of introductions where the candidates were given two minutes to answer the following question: “If you could wave a magic wand and do one thing to address the gun epidemic, what would it be?” The answers ranged from providing more community resources to eliminating guns altogether. We appreciate the candor of the candidates and their well-rounded responses that addressed multiple dimensions of the gun violence epidemic.
In the “Flash Round” portion of the forum, candidates were given questions that required a simple thumbs up or a thumbs down reaction. The candidates collectively agreed that all gun violence is preventable. Another question asked whether the candidates would commit to creating a cabinet-level position dedicated to addressing gun violence, as Bruce Harrell has called for in his campaign, and all candidates agreed.
The “Tough Questions” segment of the forum permitted members of the Alliance and Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, as well as other community members to ask questions tailored to specific candidates. I was able to ask Councilmember Gonzalez about her vote on the last police contract which subverted Voter Initiative 940 and the consent decree. Councilmember Gonzalez stated that while she didn’t support everything in the contract, the wins outweighed the losses in her opinion. We appreciate all of the candidates’ willingness to sit in the hot seat and address concerns relating to their past work and their current understanding of gun violence prevention.
Last summer, our nation was rocked by the tragic losses of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the public. One year and countless protests later, our city is ready to move forward with a mayor that understands the role race, poverty, and mental/behavioral health plays in the gun violence epidemic and is committed to prioritizing action to address it.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility Victory Fund is in the process of evaluating mayoral candidates to issue an endorsement. You can see a full list of currently-endorsed candidates here. We are optimistic for future leadership and will continue our work to end the gun violence epidemic in our city. We are hopeful that the Seattle residents will elect a candidate that prioritizes gun violence prevention and proposes solutions that move away from criminalization and towards equity, expanded opportunity, and common sense gun laws for all Seattleites.
You can see the full recording of the forum here:
And we’re hosting another forum on Tuesday, July 13th at 12pm, this time for Seattle City Council Position 9 candidates. You can register for that event here.
— Brad Blackburn is an intern with the Alliance.