The TV ad wars have begun in the Seattle mayor’s race.
This week, supporters of state Senator Ed Murray are running an ad that has some women’s advocates up in arms.
The ad, which is currently on cable TV, was produced by People For A New Seattle Mayor, a political action committee formed to support Ed Murray’s campaign.
It features Terri Kimball, the former director of the city’s Division of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention. Mayor Mike McGinn eliminated the division early on in his administration as part of a restructuring of the Human Services Department, leaving Kimball without a job.
The ad suggests that eliminating the office led to a surge in domestic violence cases in the city. “Now, domestic violence-related aggravated assaults are up 60 percent,” the narrator said.
“To McGinn, domestic violence just wasn’t a priority,” Kimball said to camera.
In response, McGinn Thursday assembled a number of women’s advocates who described the ad as irresponsible and asked that it be taken off the air.
“It is offensive and dangerous to link the exit of one city employee with a rise in the incidents of domestic violence,” said Patricia Hayden, co-chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition.
Under McGinn, funding for domestic violence programs has increased, and the restructuring of the department has resulted in improved in services, Hayden said.
“We were trying to change how we delivered services to be more effective,” McGinn added, “and that’s being used now in a highly misleading and deceptive way.”
McGinn said the surge in domestic violence cases during his term is partly the result of a new state law that’s meant to strengthen prosecutions for domestic violence cases. Nationwide, victim’s advocates report an increase in incidents of domestic violence as a result of economic hardships brought on by the recession.
In response, Senator Murray’s campaign issued a statement calling the mayor’s claims “revisionist history.”
“The mayor made a terrible decision to eliminate the Office of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and eliminate the director position. It was widely criticized at the time, and rightfully so,” the statement said.
When the mayor first proposed the restructuring, it was controversial. City Council members questioned the move. "That's what the legislative process is for, all of those concerns were aired and the City Council approved it 9-0," McGinn said.
People For A New Seattle Mayor has reported spending $83,000 on ads in the mayor's race, according to the state's Public Disclosure Commission. The PAC's s biggest contributors are Seattle Firefighters and CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
A PAC in support of McGinn, Working Families For Mayor McGinn, has raised $98,100 since the August primary, the bulk of it from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. It has yet to report spending on TV ads in support of Mayor McGinn.
TV Ad Supporting Ed Murray For Seattle Mayor