Heading into last week’s Seattle City Council meeting, everyone in attendance knew the vote on proposed drug legislation would be close.
As a result, the council chamber was packed with people waiting to give public comment.
In the room and online, public comment was overwhelmingly against the proposed drug bill. The legislation would give city Attorney Ann Davison authority to prosecute for illegal possession and drug use in public spaces.
Critics of the ordinance said it would create a new “war on drugs” and disproportionately impact minority communities.
Councilmembers Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen sponsored the bill and brought Deborah Juarez and Dan Strauss onto their side.
As expected, the far-left socialist progressive wing of the council voted no on the bill.
But in a major surprise, district 7 councilmember Andrew Lewis flipped and voted against the ordinance to effectively kill the bill 5-4.
It appears that he may have caved to the pressure, personal call-outs, and intimidating presence of far-left activists in the room like Tye Reed.
Activist Tye Reed disrupted speakers all afternoon if they disagreed with her opinions, and she threatened to mobilize if the council did not vote against the bill.
Councilmember Lewis represents downtown, where urban decay and open-air drug use remain rampant.
He is running for reelection in the fall and is backed by several business coalitions including the Downtown Seattle Association. Several individuals have removed their endorsements following his vote.
Even councilmember Lewis admits that his vote undermined the wishes of many of his supporters and may have jeopardized his chance for reelection.
The proposed ordinance would have fallen in line with state law recently passed in a special legislative session, but now drug-related prosecution falls to King County Prosecutor Leesa Manion. Manion has already said she will not pursue gross misdemeanors as her offices focuses on felonies.