Tag: Sofia Aragon

County Council Candidate Resurfaces Debunked Theory in Tommy Le Case; Businesses on Track to Far Outspend Labor in Seattle Elections

1. Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon, who’s running for the King County Council seat being vacated by Joe McDermott, reportedly caused jaws to drop at a “Tea Time with the Candidates” event at Wing Luke Museum last week when she brought up the death of 20-year-old student Tommy Le, who was shot by a King County sheriff’s deputy, as an apparent counterexample in response to a question about police violence and accountability.

According to community advocate Linh Thai, who worked to help pass the statewide police accountability initiative I-940 in the wake of Le’s death, moderator Wren Wheeler asked Aragon a question about police violence, naming Le in a list of people unjustly killed by police in King County. After giving a standard response about the need for accountability, Aragon pivoted, unprompted, back to Le, saying he had drugs in his system and was acting erratically when he was killed.

During an internal investigation into Le’s death, the sheriff’s office claimed the deputies were acting in self-defense and that Le had charged at them with a knife; a subsequent outside investigation found that Le had been shot in the back, had no knife, and may have been holding a ballpoint pen. After losing virtually every appeal it filed in the case, the county settled with Le’s family in a civil suit for $5 million.

Thai said the room went silent when Aragon implied Le had been in some way responsible for his own death. “Nobody asked her, nobody prompted her, she just decided on her won that ‘this is just something I should have something to say about,'” Thai said. “She said, ‘Let me circle back to the Tommy Le case and let me remind everyone that in the autopsy, there was a trace of drugs and also there was a report that things things were questionable about his mental health…” and I’m going, ‘Who asked you?'”

Aragon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thai, who was queued up to ask the next question, said he took the opportunity to correct the record about Le’s death. “I was like, ‘I am not here to pick a fight with you on this, but what you said is just factually incorrect,” he said. “Regardless of whether there were drugs or mental health issues involved, there was no justification whatsoever for the manner in which Tommy Le was killed by the King County Sheriff’s Office—whatsoever.”

Later, Thai issued a public call for Aragon to apologize for her comments, which “have the potential to reopen old wounds, further deepening the pain that the Le family has endured for far too long. Most importantly, she might be governed and advanced policies that may not hold law enforcement to be accountable.”

Mosqueda, who appeared after Aragon, said she was waiting to speak in a green room and didn’t hear Aragon’s remarks.

2. Big businesses will dominate airwaves and mailboxes again this year, spamming voters with cookie-cutter messages accusing progressives of coddling drug dealers, hating police, and supporting encampments all over the city.

Real-estate companies and other business interests are outspending labor by about four to one so far in their efforts to elect city council candidates they believe will be sympathetic to their political goals. Not all candidates are equal, however; business-backed independent expenditure campaigns have raised far more (nearly $300,000) in their effort to elect Meta attorney Rob Saka (and defeat former Amazon labor activist Maren Costa) in District 1, for example, than they have to elect Chinatown0International neighborhood activist Tanya Woo, running against incumbent Tammy Morales in District 2 ($112,000, including a $10,000 donation from Bellevue resident and musician Krist Novoselic).

Similarly named campaigns (“Greenwood Neighbors,” “University Neighbors,” etc.) have popped up in six of the seven council districts (sorry, Pete Hanning), each backed by organizations like the Master Builders Association of King County, the Seattle Hotel Association, and the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, and companies like Goodman Real Estate, Dunn Lumber, and Saltchuk Resources.

In addition to Saka and Woo, they’re backing former Seattle employee Maritza Rivera over tech urbanist Ron Davis in District 4 ($259,000) former judge Cathy Moore over social equity consultant Christiana ObeySumner in District 5 ($185,000); retired Navy veteran Bob Kettle over incumbent Andrew Lewis in District 7  ($129,000); and cannabis entrepreneur Joy Hollingsworth over former Transportation Choices Coalition director Alex Hudson in District 3 ($51,000).

Labor, in contrast, has raised less than $250,000 for all its candidates combined. That includes $91,000 for Costa from a coalition of unions, $43,000 for Hudson from a similar coalition, and $102,000 from UNITE HERE Local 8, the hotel workers’ union, to support six candidates, including Hollingsworth, Moore, and District 6 incumbent Dan Strauss. (UNITE HERE’s mailers for Hollingsworth promise “Good jobs in new hotels. Make Seattle a better place.”) Even counting a $10,000 contribution from SEIU 775, the home health care workers’ union, to a pro-Lewis PAC called Energize Seattle, it’s obvious businesses will outspend labor the same way it always does—something to keep in mind the next time a Seattle Times editorial tries to both-sides the influence of “special interests” in local elections.

Burien Mayor Sees No Issue With Distribution of Homeless People’s Private Info, Council Member Blames Her Colleague for Fentanyl Deaths

1. During a debate focusing on homelessness sponsored Wednesday night, Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon, who is running for King County Council District 8, responded to PubliCola’s report that the director of a group called The More We Love that offers private encampment sweeps had shared personal and medical information about vulnerable homeless residents of the city with police, city officials, and a private business owner.

The real issue, Aragon said, was that someone in the city had “leaked” the information to me, not that the person who shared the information, The More We Love director Kristine Moreland, had done so without apparent concern for the privacy of the more than 80 people included in the detailed spreadsheet she created.

“I know that there was some information shared, and I don’t know how that got to the reporter, but I know that you know, things that we share within the city will often leak out,” Aragon said. “I don’t know how that occurred, we definitely would be we would be serious about the protection of health information because in [the nonprofit] industry, that is certainly something important.”

Aragon said it was understandable that Moreland sent her spreadsheet of personal information to the private business owner, Jeff Rakow of Snowball Investment, because he contracted with Moreland’s group to remove an encampment outside a Grocery Outlet property that he owns.

As I reported, I received the information through a routine public disclosure request; Moreland attached the spreadsheet to an email she sent to a city council member, two police officials, and a real estate investor who paid Moreland’s group to remove an encampment on his property. It’s unknown whether, or how widely, Moreland distributed her spreadsheet outside the city of Burien, since only public officials are subject to public disclosure requests.

When debate moderator Scott Greenstone from KNKX noted that I got the information through a records request, Aragon breezed past the clarification, saying it was understandable that Moreland sent her spreadsheet of personal information to the private business owner, Jeff Rakow of Snowball Investment, because he contracted with Moreland’s group to remove an encampment outside a Grocery Outlet property that he owns.

“And what he did, because he did see some success, is he shared that with the city, but that doesn’t excuse leaking out of private information from those who are homeless, and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Aragon said.

As a side note: Unlike Moreland, I did not publish or distribute any of the private information contained in Moreland’s spreadsheet, because that would be an additional violation of the privacy of the people whose information she distributed.

For context, credible nonprofit homeless service providers do not, as a rule, share their clients’ private information outside their organizations without explicit informed consent, because to do so would violate people’s privacy, damage trust, and potentially break federal laws protecting people’s medical information.

2.In a TV ad for District 7 city council candidate Bob Kettle, Seattle City Council member Sara Nelson accused her colleague, District 7 incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis, of being responsible for the deaths of countless people from drug overdoses during the two and a half months when the city did not have a law empowering the city attorney to prosecute people who use drugs in public. Lewis cast the deciding vote against the bill in June, then voted with the majority of the council in favor ot a substantively similar bill in September.

“Andrew Lewis’ decision to block my drug bill cost the lives of too many people from fentanyl overdose. I trust Bob Kettle to do the right thing,” Nelson said in the ad.

Nelson sponsored the initial version of the bill, which said nothing about treatment, diversion, or overdose prevention, and opposed many of the new provisions in the updated bill that support diversion and crisis intervention training. Lisa Herbold and Lewis sponsored the version that passed, which included language indicating that police should divert people to treatment or other diversion programs instead of jail. Public drug use and simple possession are already illegal across the state, thanks to a law passed in May that made both a gross misdemeanor.

“When you have nothing substantive to say, I guess the only thing to do is resort to Republican-style attack ads,” Lewis said. “I will continue my campaign of bringing people together to achieve real results for the people of District 7.”