Guest Commentaries

Sefzik: Local Democrat chair muddles facts on crime

Public safety should not be a partisan issue
October 26, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

By State Sen. Simon Sefzik

John Adams once famously said, “Facts are stubborn things.” One week ago, Andrew Reding, the chair of the Whatcom Democrats, published an opinion piece attacking me in the Cascadia Daily News, alleging that “Crime is generally lower in states led by Democrats.” In reality, Reding should have titled his article “Crime is disproportionately larger in cities run by Democrats.”

I’ve stated before that public safety is not, or at least should not be, a partisan issue. The truth is more nuanced than his article would have you believe. For example, while some states with Democratic governors have less overall violent crimes, the cities with the highest crimes are overwhelmingly run by Democrats. CBS News recently did an analysis of the “deadliest U.S. cities” using data from the FBI and local sources. It found that St. Louis, a city run by Democrats, had one of the highest murder rates in the nation. In other words, while Missouri is technically a “red state,” violent crime rates are significantly higher in blue cities.

But the readers of this paper should be focused on what’s actually going on here in Washington state and in our backyard. In 2021, Washington state saw a 12.3% increase in violent crime, including murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. Hate crimes also had a 26.5% increase in 2021. We were No. 1 in the nation for catalytic converter thefts.

Here’s an interesting fact: There was a 73.6% decrease in drug arrests in this state in 2021. Does that mean less people are using drugs? No, it’s because possession of hard drugs was decriminalized, preventing law enforcement from making arrests. This means a man in Bellingham consuming fentanyl can use one of the most lethal drugs available in broad daylight while police most likely can only stand there and do nothing. I believe that possession of fentanyl, for example, should be treated as a felony. Many Democrats agree, including Rep. Alicia Rule. My opponent, Rep. Sharon Shewmake, takes the radical position that even possession of hard drugs should not be treated as a felony.

Rep. Shewmake has been so anti-police that not only has she voted for some of the most restrictive anti-police laws in the country (HB1310 and HB1054), she returned a campaign check from the Washington State Troopers PAC in 2020.

Even if we ignore the data, let me ask you this question: When you drive around Bellingham, do you think our crime problem has gotten better or worse? I would encourage you to ask this question to our local law enforcement and EMS, retail workers and small-business owners. What is humane about the current approach in Bellingham, which amounts to letting people overdose in the streets while we sit idly by and do nothing? Does this strategy, due to the laws passed by the Democrats, make any sense to you? We can’t ignore the evidence in front of us.

Ultimately, Mr. Reding and I agree: Public safety is a noble calling. It’s a shame that one side has overwhelmingly demonized this profession for the past two years, contributing to the exodus of officers from the profession. Crime, and its causes, are complicated. But there’s no way any serious policymaker can look at the laws passed in 2021 by the Democratic Legislature and try to say those laws made society safer.

To Mr. Reding’s closing cheap shot: I have and will condemn violence.

At the end of the day, this election is not about me and it’s not about my opponent. It’s about you and your kids. It’s about your hopes and dreams for your future here in Whatcom County.

This November, you have an incredible opportunity to use your voice and vote for the future you want here in Whatcom County. As you fill out your ballot, ask yourself if the current approach is working.

Check the record of the candidates. I know that if you do, you’ll find that I’ve been an advocate for public safety and affordability since day one. My opponent has spent the past four years passing legislation that made Washington less safe and less affordable. We can’t leave the folks who created the problem in charge of the solution.

Incumbent Republican state Sen. Simon Sefzik is a candidate in Washington’s 42nd Legislative District.

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