Candidate Profile: Pete Holmes for Seattle City Attorney


SEATTLE – Voting is in progress and the 2021 primaries are heating up in King County ahead of Election Day, August 3rd. Almost 650 candidates are looking for different offices in 2021, beating the previous record of 2017. Of this total, more than 200 candidates compete in the primary, which includes all races with three or more people looking for the same office.

Patch has asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will post candidate profiles ahead of Election Day.




My wife Ann and I are the proud parents of two grown children

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?



BA Yale University JD Virginia University


Prior to my election as the Seattle City Attorney in 2009, I was a civil litigation attorney with over two decades of experience. I was a partner-in-charge of the Insolvency & Reorganization Group at Miller Nash LLP and a hiring partner in the Seattle office.

Previous or current elected or appointed office

Seattle District Attorney

Campaign website

Why are you looking for an election office?

I am seeking re-election to continue serving as elected Seattle City Attorney. As Seattle recovers from the pandemic and continues to address critical issues of policing, criminal law reform and city hall turnover, I take pride in providing consistent, principled, and progressive leadership to our city – at a time when we need it most need .

The most pressing issue that we (board of directors, district, etc.) face is _______ and this is what I intend to do about it.

My top priority in office for the next four years will be to tackle homelessness and housing shortages. Defending my office for the Seattle eviction moratorium was really important to preventing further evictions during the pandemic. In addition, my attorneys successfully defended 3 separate lawsuits against the formation of the South Lake Union Tiny House Village, in which, for example, the Freedom Foundation and the Facebook group “Safe Seattle” were plaintiffs. It is ridiculous that, in the face of conservative opposition, my lawyers have to spend time defending reasonable solutions, but I will continue to do so.

Another important effort is to support the new regional homelessness agency, which must be an effective and proactive partner for Seattle and King County. My office provides quality advice on transferring operations and programs from city authorities to the new authority – a complex process that requires skilled leadership. I hope that as a region we will address the homelessness crisis more effectively. A person living unprotected one block outside of Seattle is just as tragic as someone living within the Seattle city limits, and a city limit shouldn’t be the limit for supporting our society.

More importantly, we must continue to pursue progressive revenue streams to fund sustainable support housing and comprehensive services. The burden of helping the uninhabited cannot fall on those who are themselves bordering on residential instability. I’m proud of my office’s recent victory in defending the city’s JumpStart tax.

What are the key differences between you and the other candidates seeking this position?

Despite years of advancing progressive politics and establishing proven diversion programs as an alternative to incarceration, I am challenged by opponents from opposite extremes. On my right, I am challenged by the 2020 Republican candidate for Vice-Governor; and on my left I am challenged by someone trying to get rid of the police and stop prosecuting offenses. Both submitted at the very end of the submission week; neither has significant legal experience.

The biggest difference between me and my two opponents is that I am the ONLY candidate in this race with ANY civil law experience, even though nearly 60% of the city attorney’s budget is dedicated to the civil department, which advises and both defends and brings policymakers Lawsuits on behalf of the city. I am the only candidate with extensive experience and progressive track record to successfully promote positive social change. Finally, voters should beware of a Republican campaigning third in as many years, this time as an independently elected Seattle attorney.

Are you for or against the proposed amendment to the Compassion Seattle Charter? Please explain your priorities in tackling homelessness.

If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters and a lawsuit is (likely) filed, it would be the Seattle City Attorney’s constitutional duty to defend the will of voters in court. If the change is upheld in court, it will be up to the Seattle City Attorney to defend the implementation of the measure by the mayor and city council if their actions are challenged. It would be inappropriate for the city’s on-record lawyer to distort likely future procedures by validating or undermining the proposal before voters have their say.

How should Seattle deal with changes to the police force? What does an acceptable police contract look like?

The conversation about redesigning Seattle police force has only just begun. Police officers are the first to say they are not the most effective response to certain emergency calls and I believe in establishing effective alternative options. No one can deny that the current system still disproportionately affects BIPOC communities, unhodged people and other vulnerable groups – that is unacceptable. As we try to rethink policing, I will advocate law enforcement alternatives that can better cope with public safety challenges while working with the communities affected by policing, as well as the new mayor, chief of police and councilors.

Although the prosecution does not control the SPD budget or negotiate police contracts, I am a strong advocate of cutting funding for militarization and excessive surveillance and increasing funding for distraction programs, therapy courts, and other measures that help people recover and rehabilitate. In cases where overly broad criminal laws have allowed police to engage in racial profiling and other abuses, I have worked with the council to revise the city code. We need to set our vision and specific goals and then work backwards from there to reach the police system we hope to achieve and reinvest accordingly.

In addition, I will continue to advocate at the state level to change the way a sacked police officer can appeal his finding of wrongdoing, as I did at Olympia earlier this year. Public confidence in their police service is vital. That is why we need the power to fire local officials who have committed outrageous acts that undermine the community’s trust in our police service. That is why I support laws that provide police officers with guard rails to arbitrate while at the same time safeguarding the right to due process. I believe that through targeted action we can have both strong unions and constitutional policing.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.

I am committed to continuing to fight income inequality – most importantly by extending collective bargaining rights to so-called independent contractors like Uber and Lyft drivers, resulting from abuse of the gig economy by employers. I’ve advised the mayor and council on the best legal strategies for Seattle’s breakthrough regulation and helped them negotiate a minimum wage for all Uber and Lyft drivers – a HUGE victory for thousands of gig employees – but we need more to do. During the pandemic, thousands of unemployed turned to gig work like grocery deliveries for a living. Our work has never been more urgent and I will continue to use the prosecution’s resources to improve working conditions and pay for workers.

I also filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Corporation seeking compensation for the damage caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial products that are banned due to their effects on human health and the environment. Unlike other jurisdictions, I have refused to reach an agreement unless the money offered matches the damage done to the Duwamish River in Seattle, so the case continues.

Finally, reducing gun violence is one of the top priorities of my campaign. Our regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Division has achieved such remarkable results in such a short amount of time! I have continued to campaign for the staffing of this regional unit in partnership with King County. Recently the FBI had no legal means of its own to confiscate an arsenal of weapons belonging to a neo-Nazi who is accelerating race warfare, so they came to our team to surrender their weapons far outside of Seattle and King Counties. In addition, with the rise in domestic violence incidents in the wake of the pandemic, our regional unit has never been more important and I support its continued growth. Gun violence is another pandemic besides COVID-19 that we must address with a public health response.

What past accomplishments would you cite as evidence that you can handle this job?

I take great pride in the work I have done to change criminal laws to protect immigrants from deportation; advocate the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana by adults; Eliminate criminal records for possession of marijuana, develop new detention diversion programs to help young people avoid life convictions, and redouble the city’s efforts to combat gun violence.

CHOOSE 180, a diversion program for teens and young adults, has shown a 92% non-relapse rate since the program was founded in 2017 through October 2020. (Annual report 2020 on the program.)

My office’s track record speaks for itself in terms of civilian victories, including successful adherence to the Seattle Democracy Voucher program and incremental move-in fees for tenants; Tim Eyman’s 976 Transit Kill Initiative repealed; to justify Hazard Pay for food workers, the firearms and ammunition tax, the JumpStart tax, and more!

The best advice I’ve ever given was:

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. (Mark Twain)

What else would you like to tell the voters about yourself and your positions?

I am honored by the overwhelming support I have received in my campaign for re-election, including support from MLK Labor and progressive leaders such as Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Public Land Commissioner Hilary Franz, King County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmembers Dembowskib, Kohl-Welles and Zahilay and many more!

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