By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
“Anyone who’s been in this community for any period of time, knows that Donnie Chin was beloved. And when he was killed, it really put a hole in the heart of this community. If you were mayor, starting at the beginning of your administration, what would you do specifically to find the killer of Donnie Chin, and bring justice to him?”
This was the question posed by Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan to her opponent, Cary Moon, at a Candidates Forum, held the evening of Oct. 12 at the International District (ID)’s Nagomi Tea House.
“You’re right,” answered Moon in front of the crowd. “There is a hole in the heart of this community that everybody feels. I’ve been to the forums, listening to the police being nonresponsive, [and] say, ‘We’re making progress, but we can’t tell you what that progress is.’
“So number one, I will make sure the police department is responsive to your questions, your needs, and listens to you about how to solve the problems for public safety in this community. Number two, I will double down on the outreach that we’re already doing. We set up three positions in the ID to build communication between the neighborhood and various departments in the city. We need to make sure that we are resourcing those folks, listening to them, and working together with you to solve problems.
“Number three, the police precincts are divided in half. We’ve got to have a unified police precinct in this neighborhood, so we can really focus on the solutions you need for safety.”
When asked about an answer to the same question by forum moderator Deedee Sun of KIRO 7, Durkan said, “Number one, I would try to raise the reward, and go to the community and the police, to get a larger reward. Second, we need to put the flyers out, asking for information, in multiple languages.The police believe they know where it came from, these particular gangs, we need to get the flyers out, not just in Asian languages, but in East African languages.
“Third, I would ask that the chief of police brief me within two weeks of becoming mayor, on where they were, and what they were doing, and what their plan was. And then I would communicate with the community. You can’t say everything in an investigation, but you can tell enough so the community knows you care… And the last thing is, this community lost a lot in public safety, and we have to make that up.”
The mayoral candidates introduced themselves by laying out who they were and why there were running.
Speaking first, Moon said, “I have worked 20 years in this city, I am an engineer, I am an urban planner, I have been working on solutions for some of Seattle’s deepest challenges, like how do we make sure men and women have a voice in planning their future, tackle the housing affordability crisis, protect and expand our base of locally-owned small businesses.”
“I’m running for Seattle [mayor] because I love the city,” Durkan said. “I was lucky enough to be born in Seattle, not too far from here on First Hill. My mother was born and raised here, and as a kid, I grew up coming to Chinatown/International District, a lot.
“But we have seen this city change so quickly, the growth that’s happened almost overnight. And with the growth comes, really, challenges we weren’t ready for. We have seen [the] homeless growth on our streets, that is a real problem that the city has not been able to solve, and I’ve got some real solutions, I hope we can talk about that. Affordability is a huge issue, people can’t afford to be in Seattle, or stay in Seattle. It’s particularly hard for seniors, who are having a hard time finding places to stay.”
The crowd — with the help of translation provided in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese — also heard from candidates in five other races, although Preeti Shridhar did not show up to debate her opponent, Peter Steinbrueck, in the race for Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 4. Her campaign manager and Steinbrueck exchanged greetings and short statements. Shridhar did appear at the forum later, greeting people from the floor.
Running for Seattle City Council Position 9, incumbent M. Lorena Gonzalez and challenger Pat Murakami traded viewpoints on immigration, naturalization, and community relations.
Other candidates appearing included Jon Grant and Teresa Mosqueda for Council Position 8, who debated on whether Grant, as a white man, is the proper person for the job; Ahmed Abdi and Stephanie Bowman, for Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 3; and John Creighton and Ryan Calkins, for Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 1.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.