Vowing to help homeless, openly-gay Seattle officer makes run for mayor | KUOW News and Information

Vowing to help homeless, openly-gay Seattle officer makes run for mayor

Jul 20, 2017

Monday, July 24, is the deadline for people to register in person to vote in the August primary.

Twenty one candidates for Seattle mayor are vying for votes. There are multiple long-shots in the race, including Seattle police officer James Norton.

Norton has been a police officer for 10 years, patrolling the streets of Queen Anne and Magnolia, after previously running a dog walking business in Seattle. As he changes directions toward politics, Norton may be the first openly-gay police officer to run for Seattle mayor.

He says he's the best fit because he's not a career politician. He says he fears what will happen if city leadership isn’t shaken up, and politics stay the same.

Norton: "I think a lot of people are going to get left out, and our city is going to become another generic big city, and that makes me very sad."

Norton has a few ambitious ideas if elected mayor. For one, regulations on rent. Rent control would need state approval, but some City Council members already advocate for it. He also wants to change how the city helps the homeless, by giving tailored outreach to people living with mental illness, substance abuse, and people with criminal histories. Norton says patrolling neighborhoods each day, he has formed a kinship with many people experiencing homelessness, and understands their unique needs and that they need more support.

As an officer, Norton has first hand experience with the rollout of a federal consent decree aiming to limit unnecessary use of force in the Seattle Police Department. U.S. District Judge James Robart is overseeing that work. Norton says the process should have included more police input, instead of the top-down reforms that are being implemented now.

Norton: "We have to change, and I'm all for that change. I don't know if demanding these changes and saying this is the best way to do it without really understanding how police do work is the best way."

He faces a tough path to the election. Norton has raised a few thousand dollars, compared to tens of thousands of dollars by a few other candidates.

Former Mayor Mike McGinn, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, and attorney Nikkita Oliver are polling in the top spots, according to a KUOW/KING 5 Survey USA poll. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.