The ACLU's marijuana pioneer: If I Were Mayor

Alison Holcomb, a drug policy advocate and long-time lawyer, has her mayoral priorities in order, but she's not falling too far into the serious trap.
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The ACLU's Alison Holcomb

Alison Holcomb, a drug policy advocate and long-time lawyer, has her mayoral priorities in order, but she's not falling too far into the serious trap.

Seattle mayor. It's a tough job, dogged by police reforms, a stretched budget and no end of public safety crises. And while there's mayoral criticism everywhere you look, it's not likely you'll come across much that's constructive. We'd like to change that. Over the next few months, Crosscut will be linking up with leaders across Seattle to ask them what they would do if they were elected mayor.

Next up, the ACLU's Alison Holcomb. Holcomb is the Drug Policy Director at the Washington ACLU and led the successful Washington state initiative to legalize marijuana. What would she do with the key to City Hall?

I would spend a lot of time in conversation with Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside him in the development and implementation of Seattle and King County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, and we talk about other drug-related issues too. My impression is that Jim is thoughtful and committed to policing policies that pass constitutional muster, incorporate the best evidence available on what actually works to promote public safety and are tailored to the communities being served. He’s a collaborative, communicative and forward-thinking leader — an invaluable asset to a mayor and city.

I’d also sit down with Port CEO Tay Yoshitani, his staff and the Port commissioners on a regular basis to ensure a strong working relationship. Seattle’s identity as an international city is tied directly to its port, and we must ensure we remain competitive with British Columbia and the widening Panama Canal. We can continue to enjoy our rich and vibrant arts community, beautiful parks and lively food and entertainment scene only if we take care of our economic engine — and the Port is a huge part of that engine.

Also, because we are an international city, I’d meet with Seattle Public School Superintendent José Banda and our school board frequently. I would explore how our schools can not only produce excellent academic results, but also better reflect our city’s rich cultural diversity. In addition to being tech-savvy, environmentally conscious and committed to social, economic and racial justice, might all Seattle graduates speak more than one language? Language is a door through which we can broaden our cultural horizons and help Seattle’s children grow into world-class citizens.

Oh, I’d also randomly hand out small prizes to people I passed on the sidewalk who met my gaze, returned my smile and responded when I said, “Hello.” Practice makes perfect, people. Give it a shot.

Want to read more? Check out last week's If I Were Mayor with 826 Seattle's Teri Hein.


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