Guest Commentaries

Guest commentary: Crime is generally lower in states led by Democrats

Sefzik campaign would rather you didn’t know that
October 19, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

By Andrew Reding

Everyone deserves to be safe in their community. Crime is up across the nation, including in Washington state. 

Simon Sefzik’s Missouri-based consulting firm Axiom Strategies knows that. The firm, which works for Ted Cruz and Ron DeSantis, recently sent out an email advising clients in every part of the U.S. to focus on crime in order to win.

Axiom's website states that the firm uses different mailers “depending what specifically about security their psychographic analysis showed to be most important.” Their “psychographic analysis” advises to promote fear and tie it to Democratic leadership in Olympia.

But here’s what they don’t want you to know:

•    Crime is rising in Republican-led cities and states as well as Democratic-led ones. The murder rate in Republican-led Bakersfield, California, at the heart of U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s congressional district, is over twice what it is in liberal San Francisco, home to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and it’s rising twice as fast, according to news reports

•    Crime rates in Democratic states tend to be much lower than in Republican states. According to the latest FBI data (2021), 12 of the 15 states with the highest rates of crime against persons (homicides, assaults, sex offenses, kidnappings, and human trafficking) are governed by Republican-controlled legislatures: Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio.  

•    Washington state ranks 37th on that list. We are much safer than average. By electing legislators who focus on the root causes of crime, we can be even safer.

This may seem counterintuitive, but most Republicans aren’t really “tough” on crime. They’re reckless on crime. Flooding the streets with guns, including military assault rifles. Increasing inequality by underfunding schools and heaping tax breaks on the rich. Defunding the IRS so more people can cheat. Now many Republicans are calling to defund the FBI. 

In this year’s session as an appointed state senator, Sefzik himself voted against banning parts for untraceable ghost guns, and against banning open carry of guns in school board meetings.

Many traditional approaches to addressing crime aren’t working, and we see the results every day. Cycling people in and out of jail, putting all our funding in responses to crime rather than preventing crime and putting first responders at risk by providing no resources for behavioral and mental health care. That’s not working and it’s costing us tons of money. We need to invest in communities, education, crime prevention programs, and getting people treatment, housing and support.

Public safety is a noble calling. Whether you fight fires, help people recover from drug abuse, work in corrections or are a law enforcement officer, you serve in an important job. Working with people at their most vulnerable means you are held to high standards. I think we can all agree that to maintain public trust, law enforcement must be evenhanded and enforce laws evenly. Overt signs of bias — including political bias — eat away at that trust.

That’s why Sefzik’s recent campaign event, disguised as a “public safety forum with Sheriff [Bill] Elfo and local police chiefs” undermined that trust. He invited leaders in law enforcement to speak and led them to believe it wasn’t a campaign event, even though he used his campaign email, campaign phone and campaign staffer to organize it, according to an email to participants. It’s fair to say that had the police chiefs known the event was run by and paid for by his campaign, they may not have attended, and certainly would not have violated state law by appearing in uniform. 

That’s on Sefzik. He misled the police and put them personally at risk. But there’s an even bigger problem with Sefzik posing as a champion of law enforcement. 

He worked for Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, as a White House staffer during and after a violent insurrection. Lawless hordes attacked the Capitol Police to overthrow our democracy. Some young staffers resigned on Jan. 6, or immediately after, and have spoken to the Jan. 6. Committee. But Sefzik has been silent. 

Voters have a right to know: Where was Sefzik on Jan. 6? Does he condemn the violence? Why didn’t he resign in protest? Does he support the results of a free and fair election?

Andrew Reding chairs Whatcom Democrats. For 20 years, he served in both Republican and Democratic administrations as an appointed human rights expert in the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.

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