Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta believes he and other City Council candidates were targets of a hate crime and is calling for a federal investigation.
Four City Council candidates were listed on multiple signs posted next to campaign signs across Burien. The signs read, “SEATTLE POLITICS ARE BAD FOR BURIEN.” The sign also reads “VOTE AGAINST,” then lists the names of candidates Jimmy Matta (running for reelection), Hugo Garcia, Krystal Marx, and Sarah Moore.
Matta and Garcia also had their signs tampered with stickers attached reading, ‘CORRUPT.’
For Matta, he sees it as an attack against his and his fellow candidates’ nationalities and identities.
“Burien is 54,000 residents. 42% people of color. 25% Latino. This community has changed. Some people may be fearful of it. They might not know what’s coming next and some people just don’t want that,” Matta said. “What’s the reason to call a person of color corrupt when you can’t substantiate it?”
Garcia agreed and said, “Having more diversity - there’s still folks (in Burien) that maybe do not appreciate that or don’t want that. And fear of change tends to bring out the kind of mentality.”
“Is it because we’re bringing Donald Trump’s tactics back of ‘they send their worst, their rapists, their thieves to America?’ To me, that’s what it means,” Matta said. “These tactics here today are uncalled for and I want this individual prosecuted because this is an attack on our democracy. Period.”
Moore also said she “felt really disturbed” by the imagery, adding, “it looked like hate symbolism.”
Matta said he would be in contact with local law enforcement and the Department of Justice. He is also offering a $2,000 reward for any information that can help Burien police arrest and/or convict the person or persons responsible.
Matta’s opponents for Council Position No. 3 weighed in on the incident.
Mark Dorsey, a candidate for Council Position no. 3, said over the phone, “First and foremost, I think it’s horrible and really sad. I think that I’ve learned in this race that there’s also the possibility of perhaps (this being) a strategy put out by another party… Anything’s possible in politics, especially when there’s big money and bigger interested involved.”
Dorsey added, “Before we give it an identity, I think we need to understand things like this can be done from a lot of angles for somebody’s gain. It’s not above people to do this to their own party to create some sort of division, and to classify the opponents in a whole different light. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but I’m trying to bring forward the possibility there… I’m just not going to jump to conclusions. I think somebody made a bad decision, but I don’t think we should classify it to a specific group without evidence or without proof… I think before we start assigning tags and assigning groups, we should probably get to the source of who did it and also be open to the different possibilities of where it came from. But overall I think it’s horrible.”
Charles Schaefer, a City Council candidate for Position No. 3, stated, “It is disrespectful to not only the candidate but their donors as well, many of whom are Burien voters, to tamper with them. If someone has any evidence of corruption by any of the candidates, I encourage them to contact the public disclosure commission, the media, and/or law enforcement with their evidence. Vandalism is not the proper way to raise any issues someone might have. If any of my supporters are involved in such activity, I would ask them, publicly, to stop.”
Alex Simkus, who is running for City Council Position No. 5 against Sarah Moore, said over the phone, “I condemn this behavior. I have no idea who did this, at all. I’m not interested in negativity in this campaign. I’d like to focus on the issues and stay as positive as possible. I’d like to see the signs taken down.”
Georgette Reyes, who is running for council position no. 5, said she was out of town and only came back to Burien on Thursday night.
“I have no idea what signs you are talking about. I’m running a clean campaign, not even getting anyone’s dirty clothes out as some of them are doing in order to get endorsed or to win. My work in the community and my testimony is speaking for me, and that is all I need,” Reyes wrote in an email.
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