The candidates for Washington’s 9th Congressional District faced off in a debate Tuesday, with Democratic incumbent Rep. Adam Smith looking to defeat Republican challenger Doug Michael Basler for the fifth time in a row.
Basler ran against Smith in the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections, losing by wide margins each time.
Smith was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and assumed office in January 1997. He previously was a member of the Washington state Senate from 1991 to 1996 and served as Seattle’s city prosecutor from 1993 to 1995.
Basler is a Spokane native whose career experience includes working as a volunteer youth pastor, corporate trainer, musician and marketer.
In Tuesday’s debate, Smith said that he does not support reduced funding for police, but said that concerns about excessive force are valid. Smith mentioned his involvement in the De-Escalate Washington campaign in support of Initiative 940, which requires de-escalation and mental health training for police officers. I-940 was passed in 2018.
“Reforming (policing) doesn’t mean eliminating it or even cutting it, it means changing the way we do it,” Smith said.
Basler mentioned increased crime in Seattle as one of the reasons he was running, and blamed the city’s safety issues on efforts to defund police departments.
“I used to go down to Westlake,” Basler said. “You can’t go down there anymore. You see plywood everywhere, broken windows, crime, you step over needles.”
The candidates also disagreed on subjects like elections and voting rights. Basler questioned the “integrity” of the voting system in King County and beyond, while Smith said that elections are “checked and double-checked,” and questioned other state legislatures’ efforts to make it harder to vote.
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