The City Attorney's Race: A Longstanding Grudge About Police Accountability.

By Josh Feit May 21, 2009


If you thought the City Attorney's race was boring, I say watch this video. Wow.

What you will see happen live—four years ago— is the genesis of challenger Peter Holmes' decision to run against incumbent Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr. 

Live on TV (C.R. Douglas' Seattle Channel show), Carr calls Holmes—then a member of the police accountability oversight panel (the OPA Review Board)—a liar and accuse Holmes of "not doing his job."

Holmes accuses Carr of being "an advocate" for the police union rather than for the people and says Carr won't allow the OPA Review Board to do its job. He also says Carr is lying.

Quickly, the issue the two are debating is whether or not the city will protect Holmes' oversight panel from legal challenges by the police union if the panel's reports—in the union's opinion—breach an agreement about how much detail the review board can give the public about police misconduct cases. 

Holmes wanted Carr to defend the panel and Carr says no way. This heated debate on the C.R. Douglas Show is clearly when this year's race between Holmes and Carr began. At least for Holmes, who looks weary and stunned by Carr's arrogance as the slugfest comes to a close. (For his part, Carr calls Holmes accusations "unfair" and says "that hurts."

I bring this up because there's a candidate forum in North Seattle tonight at 7:30 at Olympic View Elementary (504 NE 95th St.) And while, it's the mayor's race and the K.C. Executive's race and the Council races that are getting all the attention—this race actually seems noteworthy. 

Footnote: One issue I'd heard about in this race was whether or not Holmes was actually eligible for the job. The city charter says the City Attorney has to have been a practicing attorney in Seattle for the four years immediately prior to being elected. There was some question if Holmes meets that requirement—he left his law practice as a partner at Miller Nash in 2001. Since then he's been on the OPA Review Board. Does that count as practicing law? Holmes says he (and other lawyers) have  looked into the issue and, given his role filling the licensed attorney spot on the review board between 2002 and now, it does.

"There's nothing in the charter about being in private practice," he says, "and if there was, that would be unconstitutional."
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