Under the pressure of a mic test at the KUOW studios, Bruce Harrell could not remember the recitation, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” so Tammy Morales, his Seattle City Council District 2 opponent, stepped in, noting with a laugh that she has a 5-year-old.
And with that, the battle started.
When asked who she admires on the City Council, Tammy Morales pointed to District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant and District 6 incumbent Mike O’Brien.
“I think he is standing for workers,” Morales said of O’Brien. “He’s been down in the district a lot. I see him more in District 2 frankly than I see Councilmember Harrell.”
The incumbent bristled at this remark.
“I think my opponent’s answer sort of shows how out of touch she is,” Harrell replied. “I don’t think if you go to District 2, a district that’s 70 percent people of color … that if you walk into a lot of the places where I spend my whole life that they would say Mike O’Brien is the one that is in touch with that community.”
District 2 includes the International District, south to Rainier Beach. Harrell noted that he won 106 of 107 of the precincts in the August primary. Morales won the Lakewood neighborhood, her home precinct.
Sawant and O’Brien appeal to Morales also because of their left-leaning politics.
“As I have been saying, we’re in the mess we’re in right now in term of inequality, in terms of land use and the growth management challenges that we’re having, because of the council’s poor planning,” Morales said.
Harrell returned that jab.
“I could describe the problem, but the real work comes into the work that we’re doing,” he said. Later in the debate he added, “There’s a fundamental difference – I actually have experience in public safety and she doesn’t.”
Morales replied: “My opponent is right – I don’t have any experience in leaving the community in the dark about what’s going on with public safety. We’ve had numerous shootings in the last year, he is the chair of the public safety committee, the chair of the civil rights committee, and he has not had a single hearing.”
Listen to the full debate moderated by David Hyde: