Council candidate Aaron Marshall offers new thoughts on public safety

28 July 2023

The Gee & Ursula Show is doing a series of interviews with Seattle City Council candidates who represent downtown and the 7th District. Today’s interview is with challenger Aaron Marshall, Seattle Police Officer. Marshall is running against incumbent Andrew Lewis and other challengers Robert Kettle, retired U.S. Navy; Isabelle Kerner, business owner; Olga Sagan, owner of Piroshky Piroshky; and Wade Sowders, software engineer at Amazon. The 7th District represents downtown, Queen Anne, and Interbay.

“We have become so desensitized, where the normal thing of violence, crime, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, every single day gets talked about,” Aaron Marshall, a Seattle Police officer and a candidate for city council in District 7, said on The Gee & Ursula Show. “Maybe, just maybe, we should have a public safety person on the city council. I don’t know, maybe a Seattle police officer who has lived in downtown Seattle for the last 20 years. Who knows District 7 really, really well, who goes out at night, who doesn’t just have these bankers’ hours of 9-to-5 and tell you everything’s getting way better.”

Marshall is a Seattle Police Officer who works on a team called the Community Response Group.

“I have been an officer since 2013 and was drawn to SPD because of my deep ties to the city,” he wrote on his campaign website.

He said he initially didn’t want to be a police officer.

“I didn’t have some childhood ambition of being a police officer,” Marshall said. “When I got to the Marine Corps in 2002, I was bartending and I was making pretty darn good money, having a great time. I was 27 years old, life was good. So I, fortunately, had a lot of cops that used to come to my bar, downtown cops, and I lived downtown. And of course, at the time, they were hiring and they were trying to encourage me to become a police officer.”

Marshall said in 2013, the City of Seattle asked local community members to step up and become part of the police department.

“And I answered that call in 2013. Actually, this month, 10 years ago, July 2013, was when I first got hired by the Seattle Police Department,” he explained.

Marshall feels that being a police officer for the past 20 years gives him a leg up on solving the crime problem in the city.

“Getting the city back together and the police department. I think initially you’re going to need somebody in the city council who understands public safety,” Marshall explained. “One of the reasons I started running was I was listening to city council meetings over the last four years. And these folks don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to public safety.”

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Incumbent Andrew Lewis

“One tool that [incumbent Andrew Lewis] took away was [the ability to deal with] prostitution and loitering,” Marshall said. “[Lewis] said, ‘We were only going after women in short skirts.’ So how does Aurora Avenue North look now, two years later? I’ve never arrested a prostitute. It’s never happened.”

Marshall said that sometimes he took alleged prostitutes into protective custody, especially if they looked under the age of 18. He accused the city council of taking tools to protect the public away from the police.

“That definitely started the problem,” Marshall said. “Then further, when you had Andrew Lewis and other city council members showing up to [CHOP] taking selfies, promoting the idea that this lawlessness was ok. That threw a big divide into the Seattle Police Department.”

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Olga Sagan

He explained that there are often protesters when he goes out on calls, which makes policing even more difficult.

“We have to show up to 25 people in front of a house. And then you immediately come out with your tail between your legs,” he said. “The protesters tell you they are going to defund the police in front of the people who were there to protect you.”

Marshall said the city doesn’t deal fairly with the police and has not “fairly adjudicated a contract over the last two and a half years.

“They say just go, we’ll hire somebody else,” Marshall said.

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Bob Kettle

Marshall said he was running because he wanted to have a larger influence on the direction the city is going.

He calls himself an independent voice and is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

“I am running because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m going to take a decent-sized pay cut to become a city councilman. I’m gonna lose my pension,” Marshall said. “This means a lot to me. The city of Seattle is my home.”

Marshall said that his time in the Marine Corps was good training to be a city council member because it gave him “discipline.”

“It gives you a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, that esprit de corps that you just can’t really get in many other institutions,” he said.

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Bob Kettle

One of the priorities Marshall has is to create clean, safe shelters for the homeless. He feels ending encampments is important for the people and the city.

“That is something that is paramount in order to get people off of the streets. But eventually, we need to force people out of these encampments. They are the absolute most dangerous thing for them that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And we need to come together as a city council and decide that we will no longer tolerate this in the city of Seattle.”

Marshall said that he wants the city to be livable again.

“I want it to be ok that you don’t necessarily have to be 6’2″, 200 pounds, a Marine bartender cop in order to walk downtown at 10 o’clock at night and feel safe. And I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel safe,” Marshall added.

Part of that livability is making sure that businesses feel safe to reopen and that we have a thriving downtown during the day. And during the night when people want to go out and see the city again.

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Isabelle Kerner

Marshall said the city council isn’t a big fan when he shows up for Q&A sessions “because I know more about the subject matter with public safety. And two, I will call them out on absolutely every ball on strike.”

He said right now he has no political ambitions beyond the city council.

“I only want to run for city council right now, just because I know how to fix this problem,” he said.

Gee & Ursula’s 7th District interview: Challenger Isabelle Kerner

Marshall said it’s up to the citizens of Seattle to choose.

“I don’t know if I have some weird guilt because I can’t do enough as a police officer,” Marshall said.

He explained that only 18% of registered voters cast ballots in the last primary.

“That is an abysmal number. We should have somewhere about 50% or above showing up for this primary. Andrew Lewis somehow made it through with only 8,000 votes plus four years ago,” Marshall said. “We really need people to get out to vote this Tuesday, August 1.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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