NWCitizen recently published a letter to the editor that announced the then upcoming “forum” on “Public Safety” to be hosted by state Senate candidate, Simon Sefzik. Given that I had an earlier encounter with candidate Sefzik (An Open Letter To State Senator Simon Sefzik), I was interested to hear what he had to say with respect to the topic of public safety. Unfortunately, the list of “panelists” to appear at this “forum” were, with one exception, all police officers. For a candidate who publicly prides himself on reaching out to all, the choice of this one sided panel raises a serious question.
How does Sefzik define public safety? Here is his take on that from his campaign website:
"Restore Public Safety.
Supporting Law Enforcement
I will reverse extreme anti-police legislation and give our law enforcement the resources and training they need to keep our communities safe. I will advocate for comprehensive policies to give those experiencing addiction and mental health struggles tools to overcome these challenges."
Public safety, as most of us know, is magnitudes more than this generalized argle-bargle. Public safety encompasses our infrastructure (roads/bridges), our courts, our water, our air, our ability to respond to disasters (police/fire), our laws, our building codes, our jails, our medical system, our utilities…. The list goes on. Reducing public safety to an issue that a small panel of police officers (plus our county prosecutor) can speak to is utter nonsense. To call this a forum is risible, as the essence of a forum is discussion.
Although the panelists did point out some valid issues with recent legislation in Washington prohibiting or curtailing certain police practices, 80 minutes of the so-called forum was taken up with monologues from the police, while host Sefzik challenged nothing the panelists said. There was no push-back from non-police panelists because there were NONE. A miserable 10 minutes was left at the end of the forum for questions from the public. The one questioner, Markus Dee, who attempted to add to the discussion while asking a question (1.32.00 on the video counter), was essentially shut down by Sefzik and members of the audience. The one question Dee was eventually able to direct to the county prosecutor, Eric Richey, was ignored by both Richey and Sefzik.
Some additional push-back did come from comments received while the forum was being live-streamed on the Facebook page of Bellingham Metro News. Unfortunately, the comments are no longer on the Facebook page, so the challenges to statements by Host Sefzik or the panel are lost in the ether. One notable comment that I do remember was a question from a viewer regarding the appropriateness and legality of uniformed police officers participating in a forum that was essentially a campaign event.
You can watch the entire 90 minute video of this gathering on YouTube here.